Fuel Forum

With over 100 years of experience in the fuel industry, we believe there is no question or problem that Portland cannot answer or help you solve. We want to hear your questions and issues with regards fuel buying, fuel quality, fuel consumption, petrol forecourts, grades of fuel, refining etc, etc, etc. The list really is endless and we would like you the fuel user to test us so we can help you!

Feel free to send us a question using the form below. We will publish it on this page along with the best answer we can give. Please indicate on the form if you wish to remain anonymous and we will publish the question without your name.

Read our forum questions below:

May 15, 2017 Perceptive piece about the long-term future of oil heating, but it is worth noting that Denmark only banned oil heating in areas where there is mains gas, which basically means that rural areas can continue with oil heating. Plus the ban started in July 2016 and not in 2013.

Thanks Jeremy. Very interesting that the originally earmarked 2013 ban was delayed until 2016 – almost certainly down to the lobbying efforts of the European Heating Oil Association (http://www.eurofuel.eu/). Also, by allowing heating oil to continue in rural areas of Denmark, the post-ban position is not much different to the UK – where our very extensive gas grid (mains gas) ensures heating oil is only really prevalent in the countryside.

After our last Oil Market Report on the future of Heating Oil, we were contacted by Jeremy in Suffolk who made the above points on the heating oil ban in Denmark.

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April 19, 2017 What do you think of nuclear and do you know much about actual costs? There is a credible environmental argument that now says nuclear is a costly diversion, that will not be able to deliver at scale if we want to meet our 20 year emissions targets (COP 21). Why not put the money into renewables instead?

Thanks for getting in touch Duncan and in truth, we are not experts on nuclear power. But for us, nuclear has to be part of a balanced energy picture. The technology already exists, it has limitless potential and of course has zero carbon emissions. In terms of cost, our loose understanding is that new nuclear power stations are massively expensive to build but are less expensive (or at least more proportionate) to run. So up-grading existing nuclear power stations does look to be an attractive option.

With regard renewables, they are thankfully playing an increasingly significant part in global energy programmes (eg, 30% in Germany) and things like Elon Musk’s “Powerwall” have big potential. But there is little out there – other than hypothetical modelling – that says renewables can meet the global energy needs of 8bn people. And even if sufficient generation wasn’t a problem (which it still is), there is still the massive issue of renewable energy distribution and how renewables feed into existing power networks.

Also with regard nuclear, a rather Machiavellian view would be that if the imminent problem is climate change, then nuclear is the only solution – as the problems associated with nuclear are either one-off and avoidable (accidents) or 100 years down the line (waste and disposal).

Finally, even if we do meet our COP 21 climate change targets, we will still be experiencing a net increase in global emissions. Therefore the 20 year “deadline” is an arbitrary line in the sand, such that investing in nuclear to reduce emissions is still a good thing to do irrespective of whether it is done to meet emissions targets or simply to reduce emissions.

We got this question from Duncan in Oxford on nuclear energy (following on from our April 2017 Report on the French Presidential Election and the place Nuclear Energy has in French Energy Policy);

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April 7, 2017 When we leave the EU, will our emergency oil stocking obligations disappear?

Good question, because on the surface, our oil stocking obligations (65 days of emergency stock) are set by the EU. Logically then, when we leave the EU, that obligation will disappear and would in theory be replaced by new regulations set at UK level. However, Great Britain is also a member of the International Energy Agency (IEA) – a sort of energy club for the world’s richest nations (see February’s Oil Market Report) and they have a duplicated oil stocking obligation, which also amounts to 65 days. So on leaving the EU, the UK’s obligations in this area will not disappear. So definitely an example of the legislative / bureaucratic “burden” remaining in place post-Brexit.

This post-Brexit question came from one of our staff, so we thought we would share it.

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I know you are an oil company but in the whole of your report on French Energy and the French Election, there was not one single mention of renewables. Hardly a balanced report!

Fair point Estelle, but we do like to keep our reports short (otherwise nobody reads them!) and therefore have to focus on the main issues. And the truth is that in France, renewables do not play a big part in the overall energy picture, with only 17% of energy being generated from renewable sources. This compares unfavourably to both the UK (25%) and Germany (30%), although the latter does have its own “dirty secret” in its significant reliance on heavily polluting lignite (brown coal) for power generation.

The French Government periodically has the gall (or should that be Gaul…!?) to classify Nuclear Power as renewable energy source, which may be correct technically, but clearly is not what most of the rest of the world understands as renewable. But France does have the world’s largest tidal energy dam (“La Rance” in Brittany) which can be read about in our Oil Market Report from Sep 2014.

We got this question / comment from Estelle, following our March 2017 Oil Market Report on French Energy

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February 15, 2017 You mention in your last Oil Market Report that the reduced value in the £ is likely to cause problems with inflation, but what about the value to our manufacturing industries who should now be able to export more easily?

Well that’s a valid point Ade and certainly both in the UK and Canada (the 2 countries that we refer to in the Oil Market Report in question), manufacturers and exporters have found the going a little easier since their respective currencies fell in value. Furthermore in the UK, a great deal of hope has been vested in the rebalancing of the economy that might result from a weaker exchange rate post-Brexit. At the same time, over in Canada there are hopes that a prolonged period of weakness in the Canadian Dollar (due to the low oil price) will help Southern Ontario’s long suffering manufacturing industries (mainly steel and automotive).

However, a quick look at manufacturing in both the UK and Canada would suggest that these hopes might founder. In both countries manufacturing only accounts for about 10% of total GDP – so basically whilst a boost for manufacturing in these countries will be very welcome for manufacturers (and arguably those professional services whose costs are based in local currency), for those who rely on imports, the pain of a weak currency will be real. Not to mention the significant inflationary pressures that will follow for 2 countries who import more than they export.

We had this question in November 2016 from Ade in Brussels

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December 20, 2016 Is it true that Oil Companies tend to give people big payrises at Christmas?

No it’s not Conchur. Probably easier to discuss this one face to face, so why don’t you walk through from your office into mine (where the answer will still be no).

We’ve just received this festive question from Conchur Brennan (conchur@portland-fuel.co.uk) in York.

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