petrol retailers have called for an independent regulator to be appointed to examine
the working practices of the major oil companies, their trade association said
on Monday.

The demand follows further announcements of record profits earned by major
oil companies and problems caused by last year’s petrol crisis when fuel price
protesters barricaded refineries and prevented fuel deliveries to service stations.

“Compare earning profits of £2 million ($US2.9 million) per hour with
either an income that may not cover costs, let alone make a profit, or even
losing your business altogether. That’s the stark difference between the oil
companies and petrol retailers in the UK,” said Ray Holloway, director of the
Petrol Retailers Association.

“But, despite these enormous profits, it is the government that mercilessly
continues to take the lion’s share of profits.

Shell announced annual profits of £9.04 billion ($US13.1 billion), but
the Government took a staggering £23 billion ($US33.4 billion) last year
from long-suffering motorists in the UK.

“Put those figures together, and the public should not be surprised the price
of our fuel is the highest in Europe.

“Now, more than ever, an oil industry regulator must be appointed, as in the
other energy industries, and a far reaching inquiry launched into the practices
of the oil industry,” Holloway said.

The UK-based international oil giant BP is expected to announce record profits
this week.