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Petrol Prices To Fall? April 1, 2010

Posted by markswill in Cars and Bikes, Politics, Schmolitics.

Generally speaking, I ignore any kind of round-robin e-mail… An entirely hypocritical attitude of course as I send most of my friends just such a communiqué alerting them to every new blog. However double standards aside, the first sentence of one I recently received did actually encourage me to read on, primarily because it itched a particularly provocative sore for anyone who lives in the country and is forced to use a car for personal transport. And it’s currently an even deeper wound having just shelled out the thick end of £150 as a penalty for losing my sole car key whilst in London a while back.

In (im)practical terms this meant borrowing a car to drive 40 miles to and from the nearest Citruin dealer (misspelling deliberate) to get a new ‘basic’ key which would let me into the car but not start it, then having the damn thing towed to the dealer so’s to get the immobiliser re-programmed, all of which took the exactly a week. And I thought the Lancia was a bit of a money’n’aggro pit…

Anyway with the price of oil being as low as it has been for a while, the aforementioned round-robin pointed out that the oil companies have simply jacked their prices up and the government won’do anything as they rake in extra tax for every increase. And of course if you live in the sticks and like me you’re paying as much as £119.9/litre, soon you’ll be faced with the £1.50 litre, so the originator of the e-mail made an interesting suggestion.

The oil companies just laughed at the ‘Don’t buy petrol on a certain day’ campaign last spring because they knew we wouldn’t continue to hurt ourselves by refusing to buy petrol. Indeed it was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. But this idea makes much more sense and from now on I’ll just reproduce more or less verbatim what I received:

“Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations, aided by the Green Lobby, have conditioned us to think that the cost of a litre is actually cheap, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that the buyers control the marketplace, not the sellers. And the only way we are going to get petrol prices to fall is to hit someone in the pocket by not purchasing their petrol! And we can actually do that without hurting ourselves.

“For the rest of this year don’t purchase any petrol from the two biggest oil companies (which are now as one anyway), Esso and BP. If they aren’t selling any petrol, or in reality just selling a lot less, they’ll be inclined to reduce their prices. And if they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact we need to reach literally millions of Esso and BP petrol buyers.

“Now, don’t wimp out at this point… keep reading and I’ll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!

“I am sending this note to a lot of people. If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300), and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we’ll have reached over three million consumers! If those three million get excited enough and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, then you guessed it… THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!”

Like the man said, all you have to do is send this to 10 people (and not buy fuel at Esso or BP stations). How long would all that take? If everyone who reads this – and gives a stuff of course – sends this email out to ten more, all 300 million people could conceivably be contacted within the next week or two. Acting together we can make a difference. If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on either by passing the link to my blog onto ten people, or just cutting’n’pasting the text into an e-mail (or Facebook notice) you send to your gas-guzzling friends.

But in any case, just buy your petrol at Shell, Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons Jet, Texaco, etc., etc. Of course quite apart from anyone who abhors pyramid-stylee missives (e.g. yrs. trly.) some of us don’t even have the choice of not buying from these two petro giants because there simply aren’t any in the vicinity. Or alternatively, we might have to drive dozens of miles out of our way to avoid them.

In which case ignore all this and just enjoy what at least down here, looks like being a rather sodden Easter.

Please pen a comment, read previous blogs, sign up to get ’em automatically and/or access my website using the links on the right.



1. Tom Stewart - April 1, 2010

That’s all well and good in theory Mark, but just as with the last two or three BP boycott attempts you’re forgetting one important thing: my Nectar points. Make it Shell or Texaco and Esso and I’m in!

2. WTK - April 1, 2010

Pity that with massive global reserves the government taxes like a heathen. Look at the income distribution chain, compare it to any commodity, and you will see the massive taxes as waste product. Remove taxes, utilize reserves that are known and untapped, bridle the climate crazies, and you will find petrol cheaper than the US—more in the region of oil-producing Venezuela. Also, kick China in the groin for good measure.

3. Ian Powis - April 1, 2010

Just climbed out of a pothole I fell into last week.. Can’t use much petrol around here anyway, roads out of the village will soon have disintegrated to impassable (is there a fiendish plot here to reduce car usage?). Why has petrol gone up so much? Crude hasn’t gone up by the same amount and ‘experts’ on telly seem to mutter about restrictions in the refining capacity, which is obviously under oil company control, Stories of crude tankers off Milford Haven waiting for the price to increase? The boycott is innovative but doomed I fear. Only answers seem to be stop driving and buy a bike or cough up or or go by train, ah but forgot but they will be on strike soon, so that won’t work!

4. Neil Murray - April 1, 2010

Like you, Mark, these round robin/pyramid/viral emails just get on my tits and I tend to bin them after reading the first few words. What the writer of this one forgets is that modern petrol stations simply don’t run with full storage tanks. Nobody wants to hold stock, and the oil companies come round every couple of days to replenish the bunkers, so why tie up a lot of cash in brimming them? Typically, they run at a quarter a a third full. If everyone ignores the majors as per the email, and goes to their nearest alternative station, those stations are going to run out of fuel fast. This is precisely what happened in the fuel protests in 2000: if you remember, every petrol station was sucked dry in about 24 hours. So then what are these people going to do? Er, go back to Esso and BP? Oh, Tom: fancy another pint soon?

5. Martin Craig - April 1, 2010

Don’t know enough about this to say if it’s a viable approach or not, but inarresting all the same. We have a 26 mile round trip to get fuel in the first place & I blush to admit that I can’t remember what brand it is – it’s now at £1.20.6 / litre.

Re. Your Citruin – my worst car ever by far was a GS, in the late 70s. Fan belt broke – lined up new belt, socket set, Haynes manual. Find that fan belt comes into the ‘do not attempt to service this part’ category, almost become homicidal by attempting to service said part, end up using a wrecking bar to force belt onto pulley.

Not long after, I passed a garage near Leeds selling a smart black 1950 Humber Super Snipe. Swapped my almost new GS for it on the spot, no money either way, drove away smiling.

Btw, almost fell for the frugal supermini bollocks recently, then realised how far I could travel in our entirely necessary (for this terrain) old Jeep for the thousands one would cost.

You have a good Easter too, you’ll be able to float your eggs downhill in your Spring Monsoon.

6. John Seymour - April 2, 2010

I love the piece. Just the right mix of extraneous information and cod statistics to distract the reader from the date on which it was written. Ian Dale had a nice one on his blog too. Go well.

7. Joe Bar - April 2, 2010

It won’t work. The problem with reducing the price of petrol is that despite oil companies profits, the main cause of high fuel prices in this country is taxes (duty and VAT). As duty is a fixed amount per litre, it’s not affected by percentage rises or falls in the cost of the petrol, and as such holds the cost of fuel high, even when the cost of a barrel of oil is at (relatively) low prices.

As usual, the root cause of the problem is government. Of course, keeping fuel taxes high is not about revenue, but a “green” tax helping preserve our environment for future generations, and of course that’s true, because the government is filled with honest, upright, Rt.. Honourable members who don’t lie to us.

8. Frank Westworth - April 5, 2010

And we are indeed April Fools. All of us. Always and forever. Walking is also good for the spirit, and indeed the essence, n’est ce-pas?

9. Ian Hinksman - April 9, 2010

I am somewhat shocked that Petrol prices have not been one of the issues at the forefront of our current political showboating on the run up to vote casting next month.
For most people fuel prices hit them in the pocket far more than the much talked about increase in National Insurance contributions. The cynical side of me thinks that they are all talking about NI increases to take our minds off fuel increases!

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