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Daily Telegraph: Petrol retailers call for shortages 'tsar': Friday 30 December 2005


By Christopher Hope, Industry Editor (Filed: 30/12/2005)


The trade body which speaks for the thousands of petrol stations across Britain yesterday called for the Government to appoint an "energy tsar" to try to prevent petrol pumps from running dry.


Earlier this week oil companies were caught short as between 50 and 60 petrol stations in the Midlands and the south east of England ran out of petrol.


The Petrol Retailers Association said problems were aggravated because of the "commercial considerations" of big forecourt operators.


The PRA's Ray Holloway said the industry needed an "energy tsar" to step in when supplies were running low and "make sure commercial interests are kept out of it".


By last night the problems at the pumps were largely resolved. Total said a "handful" of petrol stations were without petrol. Shell said "an increasingly small number of sites in the south east and the Midlands are experiencing a stock out of one fuel grade".


Mr Holloway said: "It is over. It has righted itself. The last delivery for dry sites went out last night. All sites may not have all the products, but they will have the unleaded and diesel fuel by today."


He added the crisis was caused by the combination of the explosion at the Buncefield oil depot near Hemel Hempstead, which disrupted supplies, and the dash for fuel in the build-up to Christmas.


However important lessons had been learned for the industry, he said. The PRA would be meeting with big oil and gas companies in the New Year to revisit the industry's "contingency planning" in the event of shortages, including identifying key petrol stations which attract most demand.


He also urged petrol companies to listen to garage owners if they were warning they needed more supplies, rather than rely on "just-in-time" delivery systems.


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