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The British resorted to panic shopping to disrupt fuel supplies due to a shortage of tanker drivers after at least half of the UK’s petrol stations ran out of fuel outside the motorway network.
Brian Maderson, president of the trade firm Petrol Retailers Association, said a survey of members on Sunday indicated that 50 to 85 percent of all independent service centers had dried up, except for motorway forecourts and some supermarket sites. Company
The government announced on Sunday evening that it would temporarily exempt the energy industry, including manufacturers, suppliers, operators and retailers, from the Competition Act of 1998, allowing companies to share information and prioritize supply in the areas where it is most needed.
Maderson said there was a “manageable problem” of local shortages at a small number of retail sites last week, with media reports of suppliers’ problems spreading rapidly after drivers stopped making shocking purchases, with some members claiming “500 percent increased” to normal levels on Saturday. Upstairs ”, quickly drains the forecourt’s fuel tanks.
There are around 1,000,000 petrol stations in the UK and most are operated by independent retailers, some of which operate franchises using major oil company brands.
Maderson told the Financial Times that while the short-term problem was “buying panic”, the main reason was “a government that is dragging its feet on the issue of driver numbers on the ground”.
The ministers bowed to business pressure on Saturday, announcing that they would issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign heavy-goods drivers to help them cope with a major labor crisis in the logistics industry.
The government’s move after buying panic after BP said last week that 100 service centers were disrupted and several forecasts were shut down due to a lack of tanker drivers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shaps on Sunday called on people to be “intelligent”, saying Britain’s six refineries and storage facilities had plenty of fuel.
“The most important thing is that people actually keep moving normally and when they fill their cars normally, you won’t have queues and you won’t have a shortage at the pump,” he told Sky News.
Outlining steps to temporarily exempt the energy industry from the 1998 Competition Act on Sunday evening, Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng said the so-called downstream oil protocol would ensure that the sector could share important information and work together to reduce barriers.
“Although there was always plenty of fuel in the refinery and terminal and still continues, we know there were some problems with the supply chain,” he said.
Earlier, the government’s pleas to the public to exercise restraint were not enough to deter congestion at petrol stations by motorists, warning that oil companies may need to limit deliveries due to a lack of help drivers.
Long lines could be seen at many service stations on weekends. BP, which operates one of the UK’s largest energy networks, including many motorway sites, said on Sunday that an estimated 30 per cent of its branded service stations “currently have no major fuel class”.
BP and Royal Dutch Shell, which also operates a large fuel network, both said they were working to replenish supplies.
But industry insiders say energy companies can rarely do so in the face of panicked shopping, beyond waiting.
Shell said it is refilling sites that have been completed “quickly, usually within 24 hours.”
BP said: “We are working hard with our Holier supplier Hoare to optimize fuel distribution and reduce disruption levels.”
The sight of petrol stations drying up has put pressure on the government, which is battling the collapse of energy suppliers after rising wholesale gas and electricity prices.
Households are prepared for much higher fuel bills – one of the few reasons to be alert to the crisis of life this winter.
Maderson welcomed the government’s plan to simplify visa requirements for foreign workers but said the biggest problem was at the driver and vehicle licensing agency, a branch of the Department of Transportation, where there was a significant backlog of lorry driver applicants to start training.
“Picking DVLA is the number one priority,” Madderson said.
Industries that rely heavily on fuel supplies have said there are growing fears about what will happen in the coming days.
Steve Wright, chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association, a trade body, said he had asked the Department of Transportation to give licensed vehicles the status of emergency services, which would give them access to fuel priorities.
He added that the fuel crisis would have a “catastrophic effect” as private rented vehicles were widely used to transport patients and disabled students to hospitals.
Additional reports by Nick Fields and Jim Picard