Britain has today followed the U.S. and banned Russian oil imports as drivers started queuing for fuel after being hit by the steepest weekly hike in fuel prices in more than 18 years due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – with prices expected to keep rising. The Mail has more.
Oil prices are rising at an alarming rate sparking warnings that petrol could soon hit £2 a litre – taking the cost of an average tank to more than £100 – an increase of around £17.
Unleaded hit an average record of £1.55 a litre yesterday, with industry sources saying it was likely to rise to £1.75 by next week as 5p is being added to the price every 24 hours in some areas. But prices at some forecourts are already pushing £1.80.
Motorists queued outside a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Cambridge today as they rushed to fill up cars and jerry cans before petrol prices increase even further. There were also long lines at the pumps at a Tesco in neighbouring Suffolk. On social media there were also reports of queues at supermarket pumps in Lancashire.
U.S. President Joe Biden has decided to ban Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the matter, and the European Union this week will commit to phasing out its reliance on Russia for energy needs as soon as possible.
Filling the void without crippling EU economies will likely take some time – natural gas from Russia accounts for one-third of Europe’s consumption of the fossil fuel.
The White House said Biden would announce on Tuesday “actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine”.
The U.S. does not import Russian natural gas.
Boris Johnson has said the move to ban Russian oil and gas will punish Vladimir Putin’s regime but will be introduced in a way that “won’t affect” U.K. businesses.
Speaking to broadcasters, the Prime Minister said: “The U.K. is less exposed (than European allies) but clearly we do have diesel that comes from Russia and we can’t move overnight.
“But we can certainly do it and we can do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt supply, that ensures we have substitute supplies on stream in an orderly way and in a timetable that won’t affect U.K. business, won’t affect U.K. manufacturing, road haulage or other parts of our industry but will punish the regime of Vladimir Putin.”
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today revealed that the U.K. would “phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022”.
He added: “This transition will give the market, businesses and supply chains more than enough time to replace Russian imports – which make up 8% of U.K. demand.
“Businesses should use this year to ensure a smooth transition so that consumers will not be affected. The Government will also work with companies through a new Taskforce on Oil to support them to make use of this period in finding alternative supplies.
“The U.K. is a significant producer of oil and oil products, plus we hold significant reserves.”
He added that the market has “already begun to ostracise Russian oil, with nearly 70% of it currently unable to find a buyer”.
“Finally, while the U.K. is not dependent on Russian natural gas – 4% of our supply – I am exploring options to end this altogether,” he wrote.
The U.K. is planning to buy more oil from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the Middle East instead, but wants nine months to sort out the deals.
The move is expected to be announced this afternoon and will lay out the ban and its phase-in period, which is expected to last about a year to try to stop people panic-buying fuel at a time when energy prices are rocketing.
There will not be a ban on Russian gas – but this is still under discussion within the Government. U.S. President Joe Biden has decided he will ban Russian oil and gas immediately.
It came as Rishi Sunak was urged to put the City of London on a ‘semi-wartime setting’ amid fears the Ukraine conflict could spill further into Europe. The Centre for Economics and Business Research has predicted that GDP growth this year will be slashed from 4.2% to 1.9% in 2022 and down to zero in 2023.
Are we absolutely sure this is a good idea and in line with our core strategic objectives? Drastically cutting oil and gas imports during an energy crisis and scrambling around for alternatives? Dropping GDP growth to zero in the wake of a very costly pandemic? Have we properly costed our interventions and assessed them against our strategic interests?
Worth reading in full.