Weekly News Review - 16th January 2023

Petrol below £1.50 a litre for first time since Russian invasion

The average price for petrol in the UK has fallen below £1.50 a litre for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Petrol prices reached a peak of 191.53p a litre in July following the global surge in oil prices but have fallen in recent months to reach 149.74p a litre on Monday.

AA spokesperson Luke Bosdet said: “A 41.8p-a-litre crash in the average pump price of petrol is a huge relief for drivers, cutting £22.99 from the cost of filling the typical car tank.” Diesel prices are not falling quite as quickly as petrol with a litre currently costing an average of 172.2p, a drop of 27p from last July.

Fuel prices were already on the rise at the start of last year as countries began to ease Covid restrictions and global demand grew. But prices increased dramatically at the end of February 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine which sparked concerns over the global supply of oil.

The UK government responded by announcing a 5p a litre cut in fuel duty which is due to end in March this year. Fuel prices have fallen in recent months as countries had found alternative sources to Russian oil which has helped to ease concerns over global supply.

However, there a large discrepancies between the prices charged by petrol stations across the UK with prices around 10p a litre higher in cities and towns than in more rural parts of the UK. This has led to renewed calls for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate supermarkets and fuel retailers over their pricing behaviour.

Mr Bosdet said: “Indicative of the chaos of UK pump pricing and the rampant exploitation of drivers by many fuel retailers, the AA spotted supermarket and non-supermarket retailers yesterday charging less than 140p a litre in south Wales and Northern Ireland.

“How fuel stations in areas of big populations and high volume sales can charge well over 10p more for fuel than in largely rural parts of the UK is a question that the Competition and Markets Authority will have to address.”

UAE names oil chief to lead COP28 talks

The chief executive officer of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, has been appointed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to lead the COP28 climate summit in Dubai later this year. This has led to outrage from climate campaigners who say that he must stand down from the oil company to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mr Al Jaber is also chairman of Masdar, the government-owned renewable energy company that he helped set up and has been the face of the UAE’s energy industry over the past decade. However, there are fears that his links with the fossil fuel industry will prevent any significant action from being agreed at the global climate meeting in November.

Romain Ioualalen, global policy manager at the campaigning group Oil Change International, said: “This is a truly breath-taking conflict of interest and is tantamount to putting the head of a tobacco company in charge of negotiating an anti-smoking treaty.”

The appointment of Mr Al Jaber has increased the controversy surrounding the UAE’s hosting of COP28 as they are one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas. Analysis showed that the UAE sent 70 delegates with links to the fossil fuel industry to the recent COP27 summit in Egypt. This led to some attendees describing the event as a “glorified fossil fuel trade show”.

A COP28 spokesperson for UAE said: “Dr Sultan [Al Jaber] has a long career serving as a diplomat, minister, and business leader across the energy and renewables industry, including as the founding CEO of Masdar, a global renewable energy leader, and ADNOC.”

“To deliver a just energy transition, a deep understanding of energy systems is essential. His experience uniquely positions him to be able to convene both the public and private sector to bring about pragmatic solutions to achieve the goals and aspirations of the Paris climate agreement.”

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