The latest word on the UK fuel fiasco is that the union Unite has been given an extension on their deadline for declaring strikes by British fuel tanker drivers so that peace talks can continue. This will lift the immediate threat of industrial action which would seriously disrupt fuel supplies throughout the UK.
All throughout the week, the union and the officials from six major fuel distribution companies have been debating a number of issues including health and safety. The debates also involve pay and pensions and the issues are very complicated due to the number of different companies involved in the dispute and the number of delivery services sub-contracted out.
After talks on Wednesday, tanker drivers rejected a new offer from the six haulage firms and called for further talks.
Union Has Huge Potential for Impact on the Country
If the Unite union did decide to go on strike, it is estimated that their actions would impact 90 percent of the UK and lead to stocks of fuel beginning to run dry within 48 hours.
The possibility of industrial action has been brewed for over a year, but last month when Unite workers in fire firms voted on taking strike action uproar was caused all over Britain. Thousands of motorists flocked to the pumps and queued up to buy extra fuel after the Government advised them to top up their tanks due to the strike threat. Petrol stations across the UK were in chaos with queues stretching down the streets and the fuel retailers said that the government warnings were irresponsible and inept.
Fuel retailers said that the enormous queues at the petrol stations were clogging up traffic and fire brigade officials have said that encouraging people to store petrol in their home is very dangerous.
Petrol Prices Rising
Petrol prices have also climbed to a record high this week and have stayed above the 140p per litre mark for two weeks in a row. This is the highest that petrol prices have soared in the last 10 years.
A planned 3p increase in fuel duty in August will raise petrol prices in the UK even further. Motorists in rural areas are struggling to afford to fill their tanks to where they need to go. Drivers have started to change their habits and rely on walking, biking, public transportation and other methods of getting around rather than driving. This not only reduces their fuel costs but also saves them money on car insurance because cars that are driven less are at lower risk.
Could Fracking Be The Answer to Fuel Woes?
A possible method of extracting fuel in the UK could be the answer to the country’s energy problems, but has many worried about its environmental impact. Shale Gas Fracking is a process where pressurized water and chemicals are pumped underground to release trapped gas under the earth’s surface.
A fracking operation near Blackpool is the suspected cause of the small earthquakes which shook Lancashire in May 2011. The site near Blackpool apparently has enough gas to cover the UK demand for multiple generations. Activists are concerned that this process could pollute ground water and cause gas to leak into the atmosphere.
Further Talks Scheduled
What will happen in the near future to the petrol supply in the UK is up in the air at the moment, as Unite have yet to announce whether or not they will go forward with the strike. They will need to give seven days notice in the future if they do take industrial action, giving UK residents only one short week to plan ahead.
As if motorists didn’t have enough to worry about from car insurance to flat tires, recently an oil tanker driver strike has been threatening the fuel supply in the UK. The deadline for the strike has been extended and peace talks are currently continuing.