Motorists aim to block refinery as petrol soars
LONDON (Reuters) - Angry motorists, in a protest against rising petrol prices, plan to hold up fuel deliveries from the UK's second-largest refinery at Stanlow on May 8 by blocking roads.
A go-slow action, targeting motorways connecting the refinery to the rest of the country, could involve up to 1,000 vehicles, according to Kevin Bowker, 40, founder of the group organising the protest on Facebook.
"We will let emergency vehicles through, but no one else," said Bowker, who started the Stanlow Fuel Protest and Direct Action Group.
Growing anger in the UK mirrors frustration across the globe as rising gasoline prices threaten to curb economic recovery.
On Tuesday President Barack Obama urged world oil producers to lift crude output in an attempt to deflect public outrage over high prices at the pump, which have hurt his popularity.
The Fuel Protest 2011 page, which coordinates action across the country is "liked" by 3,630 people, and has attracted comments from groups as far away as Bulgaria.
Almost 170 have so far signed up for the go-slow on two routes to the Stanlow refinery, and a total of five routes are expected to be hit.
Essar Energy, which recently agreed to buy the refinery from Royal Dutch Shell, was not immediately available to comment. Shell declined to comment on either past or future protests.
Benchmark gasoline prices in north-western Europe have risen from around $820 a tonne at the start of the year to almost $1,140 a tonne this week.
Deliveries from the refinery could be blocked for up to seven nights, said Bowker, who plans to continue protesting with a circle of more active group members after May 8.
Bowker said a previous protest on March 22 disrupted fuel deliveries aboard 23 lorries. He has uploaded a video of a captured vehicle to the website YouTube.
Crude oil prices jumped to the highest level since August 2008 earlier this month on unrest in the Middle East, where war has already cut off 1.3 million barrels per day from Libya.
Refiners have cut runs as margins have narrowed, reducing the supply of fuels, which has helped tighten supplies and prop up prices in Europe.
Stanlow refinery can process up to 296,000 barrels of crude per day but has been operating at around 75 percent of its capacity.
Protests in other countries in oil-producing regions in the Middle East continue to threaten oil supplies and keep crude prices high.
(Reporting by Jessica Donati; editing by Jane Baird)
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