As the weather begins to turn and the temperatures start to drop, The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS) is urging homeowners and businesses across the West Midlands that use oil for heating to get themselves prepared for the winter and not be caught out by the bad weather that was experienced by many last winter.
The FPS represents the majority of oil distribution companies in Great Britain, who are, in the main, small family businesses. These companies deliver almost all the home heating oil used in Great Britain and many provide a vital service for local communities. Susan Hancock, FPS Chief Executive, comments: “Now is the time when householders and businesses should be starting to think about what their needs are going to be for the winter and should be getting prepared. Filling up your tank now would also be a good idea, especially if the price of oil is lower at the moment, when demand is not as high. The increased demand during the winter, and especially in the run-up to Christmas, usually means delivery delays so we are urging people to make sure they don’t get caught out by leaving it too late.
Our members understand that times are hard and people may want to wait before ordering fuel but a lot of oil distributors run payment schemes to encourage customers to have bigger, less frequent deliveries but then spread the payments out over the whole year, helping both financially and ensuring homeowners don’t run out of fuel when winter hits and they remind customers that they should order early, but people have got into a pattern of ordering the minimum quantity. Customers last year had a trend of ordering 500 litres and then ran out in the middle of the worst snow, when tanker drivers just couldn’t get to them. We are trying to educate people to think ahead and be prepared.”
Steve Davis of Solihull based oil distributors, Midland Fuel Oil Supplies comments: “Every year we have a few customers who run out of heating oil but last year must have been some sort of record, I think a lot of people were taken by surprise when it started snowing and many had to wait longer than usual to get their delivery (as I recall the weather forecasters didn’t predict a long cold winter). We pride ourselves on our service, and our drivers were fantastic in some really tricky driving conditions, but we were slowed down by the road conditions and occasionally just about brought to a standstill; at times roads were blocked and we simply couldn’t get through the snow to some rural areas for a few days, but we liaised with local authorities and followed the gritters into the worst affected areas. We heard from quite a few people whose regular supplier wasn’t able to deliver to them for as long as three weeks. Our advice is always to plan ahead and fill your tank up sooner rather than later.”
Susan Hancock concludes: “In winter, the UK can also experience shortages of heating oil at terminals. Demand is obviously governed by the weather and a prolonged cold snap, such as was experienced last winter, means that the terminals are unable to provide product quickly enough and consumers can run out whilst waiting for deliveries as distributors have to go further afield to get supplies.”