With over 100 years of experience in the fuel industry, we believe there is no question or problem that Portland cannot answer or help you solve. We want to hear your questions and issues with regards fuel buying, fuel quality, fuel consumption, petrol forecourts, grades of fuel, refining etc, etc, etc. The list really is endless and we would like you the fuel user to test us so we can help you!

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Read our forum questions below:

February 13, 2020 Good report as usual, but I do have a contra to your comment about “the rapid decline of conventional (non-shale) oil exploration projects”. According to this year’s Petroleum Review, ‘2019 saw some 12.2bn barrels of oil discovered – the highest volume since 2015’. So who is right on this one? Or is it a case of less projects but a higher success rate?

Thanks Arthur and probably yes, there is a case to say that current exploration projects are far more end-result focussed today, than they were 10 years ago. The spectre of lower prices and increased public / environmental pressure on oil producers, tends to mean that all projects have to be 100% worthwhile and as a result, there are few “speculative” exploration plays anywhere in the world.

That being said, we think the use of the word “discovery” might be misleading here, as the discovery of oil is not the same as actual exploration. So for example, lots of oil has been discovered in the Arctic, but it seems unlikely in the current climate, that this will ever see the light of day.

In addition to this, 2019 figures were affected by 2 massive new fields in Guyana (Exxon-Mobil) and the Norwegian Sector of the North Sea (Statoil-Equinor). These 2 projects skew the overall picture, but more importantly they are the legacy of exploration projects started many years ago. The issue the report is making is the lack of new projects today, will reduce production rates in the future.

We got this question in early February from Arthur in Bristol and it concerned our Oil Market Report for January 2020.

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February 2, 2020 I saw your advert for the Graduate Trainee job on the Careers site. How do you apply?

You send in your CV with a covering letter Owen. But on the basis it says that on the advert, I probably wouldn’t bother.

We got this question in February 2020 from Owen in Sheffield, UK.

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September 13, 2019 Oil is dead. What are you guys gonna do when we’re all on renewable energy? I’d say you’re fnucked.

Thanks Loki – we’re making the assumption you are not the original Viking God (or his Marvel alter-ego). If you are, then you’ll probably be able to answer this one better than us.

Onto your question. As we have said in various Oil Market Reports (, the indisputable fact remains that even if oil is in long-term decline, then its use will continue for many years – because it is so integral to all modern economies. On that basis and on the basis that even if the oil market was to halve in size, it would continue to be the biggest industry in the world, then we wouldn’t expect Portland to be “fnucked” just yet.

Much more interestingly though is the opportunity that decarbonisation presents to independent players like Portland. For the first time in probably 70 years, the oil majors and corporate financial interests do not have the whip-hand in this area. Of course, the big players have the funds to push environmental solutions on a grander scale than anything Portland can do. But their position is compromised by the fact that they have vested interests in continuing in the supply of oil (ie, old school energy). Furthermore, at present there exists no clear preferred environmental energy solution for the planet. The likes of Portland have no interest in oil per se – we simply buy energy and sell it on. And as for evaluating and deciding on which low carbon energy will be the fuel of the future, well we can come to that decision just as easily as any major corporation.

All of which makes the current juncture of the oil and energy industry so fascinating – certainly the most interesting time to be in the industry, after so many years of simply doing the same thing, time and time again.

We haven’t had a question on the fuel forum for a while, so we were pleased to receive this rather candid question from “Loki” in Shropshire.

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September 20, 2017 Is there a time lag between movements in the price of Brent Crude and then corresponding movements in the price of Refined Products? Once the refinery has purchased the oil, how long does it tend to take to turn that barrel into Diesel for sale?

This is a question that vexes a lot of people and not for good reason. A superficial answer would be about 1-2 weeks, with for example Crude from the North Sea being landed at a UK Refinery (2 day voyage), stored in refinery tanks (1-2 days), processed (1-2 days), back into storage (1-2 days), loaded onto a truck and then delivered to a petrol station (1 day). On top of that, you would need to add another 3-4 days if the product is to be sent from the refinery by pipeline / truck / small coastal ship to a fuel depot around the country, where there is another 2-3 days of storage before loading onto a truck and delivery to a petrol station. And then you have to factor in the vastly different consumption rates – at both depot and fuel station level – which means stock turnover can be anything from 2-3 days (busy urban sites) to 2-3 weeks (remote rural sites).

All of the above sounds complicated, but is nonetheless fairly logical. It is also only half the story! Whilst it explains the logistical time-delay in the correlation of prices from crude oil. it does not explain any market values of the refined products themselves. In reality, diesel, petrol and every other refined grade have their own market value that does not necessarily follow the price of oil. So for example, if there is a large draw-down of gasoline stocks in the USA (let’s say at the beginning of the US Driving Season = May / June), then you could easily have a situation whereby the price of Gasoline goes up (increased demand), whereas the price of crude stays static or even on occasion goes down (because demand for crude oil elsewhere in the world has softened). Another good example of this, is Heating Oil in Europe (effectively diesel) which can increase in price at the beginning of the winter (around November), completely independently of movements in crude price.

So in a nutshell, there is a correlation between crude prices and refined prices and in the UK that correlation has a time lag of about 2 weeks. But the correlation is not guaranteed and can frequently disappear entirely.

This question comes from Carl in Liverpool.

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September 18, 2017 A good and interesting report, but possibly disagree with the environmentally friendly angle of manufacturing oils that end up dumped in landfill, oceans and spend the rest of eternity clogging up and damaging food chain and nature’s delicate ecosystems.

We can’t argue with the point you make here Finley, as crude oil derived plastics – unceremoniously dumped – are the bane of many a natural landscape. It’s just in our world of oil trading And supply, our environmental judgement is often purely viewed through the lens of how much CO2 and other emissions are generated. Here, plastics and other oil manufactured products clearly beat fossil fuel combustion for transport. But equally clearly, that doesn’t exactly make them “green” products!

From Finley in Cornwall, who responded to our July 2017 “Summer Special”.

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May 15, 2017 Perceptive piece about the long-term future of oil heating, but it is worth noting that Denmark only banned oil heating in areas where there is mains gas, which basically means that rural areas can continue with oil heating. Plus the ban started in July 2016 and not in 2013.

Thanks Jeremy. Very interesting that the originally earmarked 2013 ban was delayed until 2016 – almost certainly down to the lobbying efforts of the European Heating Oil Association ( Also, by allowing heating oil to continue in rural areas of Denmark, the post-ban position is not much different to the UK – where our very extensive gas grid (mains gas) ensures heating oil is only really prevalent in the countryside.

After our last Oil Market Report on the future of Heating Oil, we were contacted by Jeremy in Suffolk who made the above points on the heating oil ban in Denmark.

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