Pump summit fuels petrol hope

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The Independent Online

The major supermarkets and oil companies are heading for a crunch showdown that could drastically cut the price of petrol in the UK.

The major supermarkets and oil companies are heading for a crunch showdown that could drastically cut the price of petrol in the UK.

If the supermarkets are successful in putting their case, it could mean, according to one senior industry source, "a future of much lower UK petrol prices, and much better discount deals for motorists".

The two sides are set to meet in 10 days' time at a conference hosted by Brian Wilson, the Energy minister, where a range of petrol retail issues will be on the table.

Those attending, which include BP, Shell, the Petrol Retailers' Association and Aukoi – a body representing such supermarkets as Tesco and Asda – have been told that high on the agenda will be the infrastructure of UK petrol retail.

What the supermarkets have long wanted is greater access to the fuel pipeline in the UK, and an opportunity to argue their case. Since they have no storage capacity, they are forced to buy petrol directly from the majors, and have no easy way of shielding UK consumers from fluctuations in the oil price.

The supermarkets intend to leverage their combined position as the UK's biggest petrol retailers to force the majors to offer them much deeper discounts, or else direct access to wholesale petrol markets.

As Aukoi chairman Simon Davis explained: "We want to be able to ensure our future competitiveness and ability to keep prices down. These discussions will give us that chance."

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