Gas Price Spike in Britain

by Greg Pollowitz

Telegraph: Petrol breaks through 140p barrier to reach record high

Or, translated into American English, about $8.40 per gallon.

Higher gasoline prices used to be acceptable as Britain was a net-exporter of  oil. That’s no longer the case:

Until recently, the United States was a big net importer of oil, while Britain was a small net exporter of oil. This meant that higher oil prices harmed the U.S. economy, but had a slightly positive effect on the U.K. economy.

This is to some extent changing. While the U.S is still a large net importer, a combination of falling consumption and rising production in states like North Dakota has significantly reduced net imports, meaning that while a higher oil price is still negative for the U.S. economy, it has a smaller impact than a few years ago.By contrast, a dramatic drop in U.K. oil production in recent years means that not Britain has gone from making small gains from a higher oil price to suffering great losses.

This is evident in the latest U.K. industrial production report. While manufacturing alone rose in January by 0.1% compared to the previous month and 0.3% compared to a year earlier, overall industrial production fell by 0.4% compared to the previous month and 3.8% compared to a year earlier because “oil and gas extraction” fell by 3.3% compared to the previous month and 23.9% compared to a year earlier. Compared to 2008, oil and gas extraction is down by 37.5%. While U.K. consumption is also down, it has fallen by far less than production, turning Britain from a net exporter to a net importer.