Isle of Wight Fuels to close its doors

After 60 years of trading, the parent company for Isle of Wight Fuels (IOWF) has decided to close the business, which includes the Isle of Wight’s only fuel storage depot, in less than 2 weeks’ time, resulting in concerns over knock on effects for customers and companies in the supply chain.

Isle of Wight Fuels

The company provides homes and businesses with vital heating oils, as well as supplying diesel and petrol to local filling stations, commercial operators and agricultural industries. With the closure of the depot in early August, the island will be reliant on fuel being brought over by tanker on cross-Solent ferries. Any disruption to this cross-Solent travel, fare increases, or regulatory changes could have serious knock-on effects to those on the island.

Over 1.5million litres of fuel passes through the Kingston Road facility in East Cowes each week and the depot can store a total of 3million litres, providing a good level of resilience. Once the depot closes – with the loss of around 15 jobs – the Island will be solely reliant on fuel being brought over by tanker on cross-Solent ferries, with no option to store a reserve.

The decision came after Motor Fuel Group, IOWF’s parent company, carried out staff consultations and a detailed examination of the trading options.

A statement from Motor Fuel Group reads;

“Following a detailed examination of the trading options of IOWF together with individual consultation with all members of staff, Motor Fuel Group announces that it is not viable for the business to continue to trade.

“Accordingly, and with regret, the IOWF business will close on Friday 7th August 2020.

“No fuel deliveries will be made, nor customer orders accepted, after this date.

“We would like to thank our customers for their loyal patronage and our staff for their professional and dedicated service.”

Ensuring continuity of supply

For the past 18 months, supermarkets on the Island have been sourcing their own supplies which are delivered by road tanker. However, the smaller and more rural filling stations are still supplied by Isle of Wight Fuels and Certas Energy – and Certas get their supply from the fuel depot in East Cowes too. If supplies were to run low at independent stations motorists may be forced to fill up at supermarkets, which could, in turn, see supplies depleted there quicker than normal.

A spokesperson for Certas Energy has said;

“We currently supply around a third of the fuel on the Isle of Wight across the various sectors. We are working closely with all of the relevant authorities and stakeholders to ensure continuity of supply for the whole island.”

Aside from the loss of jobs, the small businesses who provide services to IOWF will also feel a knock-on effect.

Karl Love, the Isle of Wight councillor for East Cowes shared his concerns, both in a commercial and domestic sense, over the closure;

“It is important to understand the supply chain and impact. It’s not a simple case of bringing other suppliers to our Island, because they will have to learn the delivery routes and routines of Island people in making that delivery.

“I would hope that someone might purchase the company and consider introducing the supply of fuels by ships rather than carrying it in small tankers across the Solent on passenger ferries.

“We should not forget the loss of these jobs and its impacts on families. It is a skilled job requiring lots of safety training in order to handle inflammable fuels.”

 

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