Dutch retailers will get the chance to bid for petrol forecourt sites along the country's highways as government plans to restrict the power of the multinational oil companies kick in. Oil giants including Shell and BP have agreed to give up all their highway forecourt sites (amounting to almost 300 stores) over a 22 year period to comply with government demands to increase competition. "It's ridiculous," said a spokesman for Shell in the Netherlands. "At first they [the government] wanted to provide permits for up to 150 new stations when there is already more than enough. And we were to be forbidden to bid for them." Rather than becoming embroiled in a lengthy legal dispute, the oil companies have compromised and let the government auction off the sites gradually. Ahold is likely to head the queue of bidders at the first auction in June after the termination of a joint venture with Shell to run 60 forecourt sites under Shell/Albert Heijn branding. Ahold still has some forecourt sites along the border with Germany but is keen to develop the format after its success in the US and Scandinavia, a spokesman said. {{NEWS }}