Petrol crisis: London has the joint lowest levels of fuel in the country, leaked analysis shows

·4-min read
Vehicles queue for fuel at a petrol station in west London (PA)
Vehicles queue for fuel at a petrol station in west London (PA)

London has the joint lowest levels of fuel in the country as it remains in the grip of the petrol crisis, a leaked Whitehall analysis shows.

The capital,along with the South East, the North West, the West Midlands and East Midlands are all said to have fuel levels at their pumps of less than 20 per cent.

The analysis, obtained by the Times, marks the areas as red on a traffic light-style grading system.

There are signs of significant improvement elsewhere in the UK as Northern Ireland is green, Scotland is moving from amber to green, while the North East, Yorkshire and Humber and Wales have all moved from red to amber.

The Times reports the average fuel levels at forecourts across the country remaining at 20 per cent for the third day running. The usual level is 43 per cent.

It comes as petrol stations warned on Thursday they are still running out of fuel faster than they can be resupplied.

Frustrated London drivers have resorted to desperate measures to secure supplies of fuel as the shortages showed few signs of easing in the capital despite assurances from Government ministers.

In one extraordinary scene, a woman was seen filling six plastic water bottles and an empty juice carton with fuel before going on to top up her Lexus SUV.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) suggested the easing of the situation in recent days appeared to have stalled, with 27% of stations having run dry - the same percentage as on Wednesday.

Executive director Gordon Balmer said: “PRA members are reporting that whilst they are continuing to take further deliveries of fuel, this is running out quicker than usual due to unprecedented demand.

“We would urge drivers to maintain their buying habits and only fuel up as and when needed to ensure there is plenty of fuel to go around.

“It is important to remember that fuel stocks remain normal at refineries and terminals, and deliveries have been reduced solely due to the shortage of HGV drivers.”

His comments appeared to contradict the Government after one minister claimed the crisis was “under control”.

Treasury Chief Secretary Simon Clarke told Sky News: “We are in a situation now where more fuel is being delivered to petrol stations than is being sold so that crisis is now absolutely back under control.

“That is something that will continue to ease if people just return to normal buying habits.”

 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

The AA said that while queues remained at stations across London, the South of England and in built up areas, there were “encouraging signs of stability”.

AA president Edmund King said: “Most drivers have managed to find fuel, but might have had to travel to several filling stations or to queue.

“A large proportion of drivers changed their refuelling habits over the last five days, and this should now allow forecourts to restock and find their feet again.”

Ministers have already begun deploying the Government’s reserve tanker fleet - driven by civilian drivers - to support the resupply of filing stations.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said military drivers - who have been on standby since Monday - should also start appearing on the roads in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has suggested that prisoners could be employed to fill the wider shortages in the labour market.

The Government has rejected calls from the retail and hospitality sectors to ease immigration rules in the run-up to Christmas to ensure services are maintained.

However Mr Raab, who is also Justice Secretary, said taking on low level offenders on day release from prison could make it less likely they will re-offend while benefitting the economy.

“We’ve been getting prisoners and offenders to do volunteering and unpaid work,” he told The Spectator.

“Why not if there are shortages encourage them to do paid work where there’s a benefit for the economy, benefit for society?

“If you give people skin in the game, give them something to lose, if you give them some hope, they’re much less likely to re-offend.”

A government spokesperson said: “We’ve taken immediate action to increase the supply of HGV drivers and relieve the pressure on petrol stations and are seeing the first signs of demand stabilising.

“We recognise the challenges facing industry and streamlined the testing process in July to boost the number of drivers.

“We have also introduced short term visas for HGV drivers and measures to prioritise fuel deliveries to areas most in need.

“It’s important to stress there is no shortage of fuel in the UK, and people should continue to buy fuel as normal.”

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