Monday, April 21, 2008

Maths and logic and clever manipulation.

1 UK gallon = 4.54609 litres

1 US (liquid) gallon = 3.785411784 litres.

Currently, 1 UK pound = 1.98 US dollar.

The price of one litre of petrol in the UK is just over a pound. Call it two dollars a litre for simplicity and you can find out why I use the bus more often than my car.

Currently, there is a refinery where the employees are threatening to strike. One refinery, not all of them. Something about cuts to the pension plan – I don’t work there so I don’t know the details. The strike will be for two days, but the refinery will have to shut down and it takes a month to get it running again. Let’s call a month 30 days to keep the sums easy.

This refinery processes 200,000 barrels a day. A barrel is currently over 100 dollars. That’s 20,000,000 dollars a day, or 600,000,000 dollars for the month in lost money for the refinery, over a two day strike.

I wonder how much they save by cutting the worker’s pension plan? More than six hundred million dollars (three hundred million pounds)? Somehow I doubt that. So why is it happening?

People are queuing at petrol stations all over the place, blank eyed and chanting ‘Must…fill…car’. Idiots. Get rid of your ten-miles-per-gallon moron-mobiles and buy something that works more efficiently. My car isn’t small. It’s an estate (station wagon to the rebel colonists) so I can carry loads of junk. It still gets over 40 miles to the gallon. Nobody in the UK needs a car capable of climbing Everest. But that’s a different tirade.

Several petrol stations are out of petrol already. The queues are something to see, all those idling engines working to empty fuel tanks just so they can be refilled at a pound a litre.

Farmer’s fuel suppliers have introduced rationing. They claim they are running short already. Eh? The strike has yet to materialise and it might yet be called off. The refinery isn’t closed, so there’s been no interruption in supply. There can’t be a shortage until the supply stops, since farmers will only get what these companies are willing to sell them.

Right, that’s the maths. The strike will cost the refinery around six hundred million dollars, far more than they could possibly save on a cut in the pension scheme. People are causing their own short-term shortages by panic buying, but that can’t apply to the farm supplies because they are controlled by the suppliers. Yet they claim to be running out before the shutdown happens.

Where’s the logic? There isn’t any.

Unless it’s a con trick. Watch those fuel prices rise in the coming weeks.

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