A while back the Office of Fair Trading published a controversial report which said that the price of petrol in the UK was fair, and that oil companies are selling the product in accordance with market prices. The report went on to state that the only reason petrol is so expensive in the UK is due to the amount of fuel tax added on by the government, which led to widespread anger and eventually the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne scrapping the 3p rise in fuel tax that was supposed to go ahead this September.
However, today the European Commission raided the offices of the two giant petrol providers BP and Shell as they have reason to believe that both companies have been manipulating the market and therefore increasing the price of petrol. Discussing the raid, a spokesman from the European Commission said: “The commission has concerns that companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products. Officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in and providing services to crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels sectors.”
“Even small distortions of assessed prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers.” Understandably, motorists are extremely concerned and angered over the news, especially as the cost of motoring is currently so expensive. Most drivers in the UK are currently struggling to afford car insurance, MOTs and road mainly due to the rising cost of fuel, and so if BP and Shell are found guilty of manipulating the market they will understandably face harsh repercussions.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon is pleased with the raid, as he has previously called for large oil companies to be inspected before. He added: “Last year Parliament voted unanimously for an investigation into the oil market. These latest allegations underline why that must happen. Motorists are being taken for a very expensive ride. The Government has done its bit, by freezing fuel duty for three years. Now oil companies must come clean and show some responsibility for what is happening to the international oil price.”
In the next few weeks we are sure to hear more about the results of the EC investigation, and what will happen to the price of petrol as well as the future of BP and Shell as a consequence of these shocking revelations.