Pump panic highlights the West’s slavery to crude oil
Advance countries can’t do without crude – witness petrol panic in Britain and US gasoline prices nearing the politically deadly “four bucks a gallon” – and claims of US energy independence just don’t ring true.
By Andy Rain
March 31, 2012
The UK remains locked in the grip of petrol panic. Just the prospect of a tanker drivers’ strike, with the Easter holiday season looming, and we lost our collective nerve. Snaking petrol station tail-backs became commonplace and jerry can sales soared. On Friday, a third of UK filling stations actually ran out of petrol, with demand up 170pc on the same day the week before.
Some say the Tories deliberately stoked the petrol panic, to get rows over cash-for-access Downing Street dinners and post-budget “granny-tax” squirming off the nation’s front-pages. Ministers will certainly have known that a potential fuel crisis piles serious pressure on Labour, given the party’s financial reliance on Unite, the union representing the 2,000 fuel tanker drivers threatening to strike.
Fearing public opprobrium, perhaps, Unite late on Friday ruled out industrial action over the upcoming Easter weekend. Yet, still, the panic buying continued.
Does anything better demonstrate our overwhelming addiction to oil? Commercially, logistically, culturally and even psychologically, the world’s “advanced countries” can’t do without crude. The UK’s latest petrol spasm, even if now in abeyance, points to a stark bigger picture. For even if the euro-crisis has been contained for now (and that’s a big “if”), concerns are mounting that it’s a spiraling oil price, rather than European monetary meltdown, that could slam the world economy back into the doldrums.