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:

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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July 15, 2016 In your last Oil Market Report (loved it BTW), you talked about increases and decreases in supply in the US, Nigeria and Iran. What about the other oil producing areas of the world?

A good question and thanks for the vote of confidence in our monthly reports (June Oil Market Report)

When it comes to the price of oil, what matters is not who is producing the most (or least), but where the biggest increases or decreases in production are taking place. So the reason we talked about Nigeria, Iran and the US in our report is because these countries have experienced very significant changes to the amount of oil they are supplying over the last 6 months. In the case of Iran, oil supply is massively up (as they bounce-back from the oil sanction era), whereas in Nigeria (production sabotage and oil theft) and the USA (commercial bankruptcy), oil production is heavily down. The result is a significant impact on the oil price.

That’s not to say that production in places like Saudi Arabia and Russia is not important, it’s just that their volumes have remained consistent for the last 6 months (and long before that in fact). As for places like the UK which have seen a big drop-off in oil production (down from 1.2m barrels per day to about 800k barrels per day), the total volumes are so small in comparison to overall world supply (90m barrels per day), that the impact is negligible (verging on non-existent).

We have this question from Jeremy in Tewkesbury (Jul 16).

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April 12, 2016 Regarding your comments on BSOG (Bus Service Operators Grant) and the rebate currently paid by the Government. The amount should actually be a lot higher, had the Government not decided to break the linkage between fuel duty increases and the fuel duty rebate. So for all the years that we saw Fuel Duty increases in the 2000’s, this was not reflected in increases to the BSOG rate. Plus don’t forget that buses do not compete with hauliers, but they do compete with other public transport modes who pay less or no duty.

OK George…keep your kilt on! But you’re absolutely right on this one – the BSOG rebate / duty rise correlation was removed long ago and according to the original intent of BSOG, the rebate should have continued to rise in line with increases to fuel duty throughout the 2000’s. Not least because one of BSOG’s original intentions was to protect “lifeline” public bus services and not penalise those services with higher fuel duty rates.

Equally pertinent is your second point on fuel duty (or lack of) for other modes of public transport. Airlines pay no fuel duty at all and trains – probably the most direct competitor to buses – only pay 11.14ppl. That’s not even half of what the bus industry currently pays and that certainly seems pretty unfair to us.

This comment comes from our good friend George Mair (Scotland Director at the Confederation of Passenger Transport), following our latest Oil Market Report (March 2016).

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February 24, 2016 What is the percentage of bitumen in road asphalt?

Woah Sandy! That’s a very specific question. But the answer is circa 5%-10%, depending on how much level of water-proofing is required against rainfall. As your question comes to us from the West Coast of Scotland, we can only imagine that the level is around 10% where you live…!

This short and sweet question came from Sandy in Gourock

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December 22, 2015 You said in your November report that the green movement is not entirely supportive of Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS). Why is this?

That’s a really interesting question Stephen because it’s true to say that there is no real consensus view on the benefits of CCS.

On the one hand, some environmentalists are enthused by the potential of CCS and believe it is a natural bridge to curb emissions. It is also technology they say, that can immediately make an impact in the reduction of emissions, rather than some of the alternatives around renewable energy – which most agree are still 10-20 years away in terms of mass implementation.

However, there is another viewpoint on CCS espoused by the likes Greenpeace. They have called CCS technology a “dangerous distraction in the fight against climate change” and simply see the large-scale projects around CCS as a route for big oil and big energy to avoid reducing emissions – after all, if carbon capture becomes so effective, what incentive will there be to actually reduce fossil fuel consumption? Portland can see that this point of view has a certain element of logic. If we could use the analogy of dealing with an alcoholic, the real cure for the affliction would be to stop drinking (ie, curb emissions) rather than providing more and more headache tablets (capturing emissions) to deal with the hangover the following day.

On balance though, Portland sees CCS as one credible way of moving the world to a lower carbon energy future and in a relatively civilised way – with much less social and financial upheaval, that some of the more radical switches to renewable energy would entail.

As a final point, there are still many out there who say that CCS cannot work from a technical perspective and that it is therefore, a complete waste of money. Interestingly this viewpoint actually comes from both sides of the climate change divide, with both climate change deniers and the likes of Greenpeace claiming that the technology simply doesn’t exist to deliver reliable CCS programmes. Both these parties have an interest in denigrating CCS technology (for different reasons), but that being said, as we sit here at the end of 2015 there are still no large-scale, fully functioning CCS projects in place anywhere in the world. And until that changes, such views will continue to be held.

We had this question from Stephen in glorious Oban, Scotland

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