Fleet News

Fleets gear up for fresh fuel crisis

FLEETS are relying on bunkered fuel to ensure vehicles remain mobile if Monday's threatened fuel protests hit supplies. Although companies and agencies which survived the last round of fuel protests have taken extra precautions, others could still see their fleets grind to a halt if the protesters embark on round two of their campaign for pump price cuts.

The Government says it has contingency plans to ensure fuel suppliers get through if there is any repeat of September's blockades. And the Petrol Retailers' Association has urged motorists - including company car drivers - not to panic buy in the run-up to new protests.

The Confederation of British Industry has said businesses are better prepared than in September, with many having stockpiled fuel. Parcel delivery company TNT has installed extra storage tanks to boost its already high fuel stocks.

Simon Boggis, group fleet procurement manager for TNT UK, said: 'We ran the full course last time without stopping. We are prepared for action this time. Last time we prioritised our activities using e-mail and conference calling where possible. We use 1.25 million litres of fuel a week and preventing the car fleet from using the bunkered stock probably gave us a few extra days.'

Meanwhile, DHL issued a statement to reassure its customers that bunkered fuel at sites across the country and some liquefied petroleum vehicles on its fleet should help provide 'uninterrupted service' should disruption occur.

Julie Jenner, fleet manager at Nokia UK, said: 'Around 60% of our staff have laptop computers and are able to work from home, but I don't think our drivers are any different from others and are stocking up on fuel. We sent an e-mail around about lift-sharing and working from home and luckily we weren't badly affected last time.'

John Bradley, fleet manager for Hampshire police, said the force has access to its own diesel at 19 sites across the county which were fully stocked and did not anticipate any problems if fuel depots were blockaded. There are also 35 LPG cars on the fleet of 800 vehicles and its contingent of high-performance Volvo V70s have this year been supplemented by 14 BMW 330 diesels.

Bradley said: 'In the worst case scenario, the Government will use emergency powers and a number of fuel sites will be designated for emergency services throughout the country. We have also advised our divisional commanders to liaise with local filling stations and to be aware of what stocks are available.

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