Fuel giants to increase safety scrutiny of tanker firms


BP and Shell underline safety issue while keeping a close eye on fuel supplies at truckstops and service stations

Fuel giants to increase safety scrutiny of tanker firms
Fuel giants to increase safety scrutiny of tanker firms
By Rob McKay | October 7, 2013

Fuel transport safety and distribution reliability are high on the immediate agendas of at least two energy retail companies following the fiery Cootes tanker crash and resultant safety scandal.

Though tanker crashes are rare, the high-profile Cootes incident will act as a red flag on the issues for the likes of BP and Shell and their competitors, and trucking firms with tanker fleets are likely to have a tougher time at fuel company renewals in future.

"BP is undertaking a tender exercise for all its trucking support and the new contracts will provide greater provision for oversight and assurance," a BP
spokesman says.

"We also have time to review lessons learned from this incident and – if required – make further changes to our new contracts."

The company would not be drawn on how the Cootes situation will affect its present
relationships with other trucking firms.

"We need to understand exactly what happened before commenting; this will happen, but not until the immediate situation has been dealt with," the spokesman adds.

While it did not address the issue directly, Shell did underline the importance of safety in its distribution process.

With Queensland emerging as a possible supply shortage hotspot, BP and Shell are keeping a close eye on retail diesel and petrol levels as official safety audits of the Cootes fleet bite in New South Wales and Victoria.

Details were unavailable on the state of diesel distribution specifically but
Shell indicates that there has been an impact on general fuel transport that it expects to rebound from in coming days.

"Shell Australia is working closely with Cootes Transport and our other fuel transport providers to minimise the impact on our customers," a spokesman says.

"The company is actively monitoring stock levels at its service stations and working with its dealers, including Coles Express, to prioritise deliveries of fuel to sites where it is most needed.

"Shell expects fuel deliveries to improve progressively over the course of the week as Cootes Transport trucks are returned to service following inspections.

"The safety of employees, contractors, customers and the community is Shell’s number one priority.

"Shell apologises to customers for any inconvenience caused."

Though they had been liaising electronically over the weekend, BP executives were meeting today to review the impact on its supply chains, a spokesman says.

On a somewhat positive note for BP’s road freight customers, the company insists that "all our truckstops currently have stock".

"BP supports the immediate action which Cootes has taken," its spokesman says.

"At the moment, all our energies are focused on managing our distribution business and minimising any disruption to our customers.

"Longer term issues are for a later date."

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