Queues form at petrol stations as drivers urged not to panic buy

·3-min read
Drivers queue for petrol at a forecourt in Tonbridge, Kent, United Kingdom, after other petrol stations in the town ran out of fuel - Stephen Lock / i-Images
Drivers queue for petrol at a forecourt in Tonbridge, Kent, United Kingdom, after other petrol stations in the town ran out of fuel - Stephen Lock / i-Images

Queues have begun to form at petrol forecourts amid fuel shortages due to a lack of lorry drivers, as customers have been urged not to panic buy.

A handful of BP and Tesco petrol stations have been closed as a result of not being able to get petrol or diesel supplies.

Drivers were seen forming queues at petrol stations in Tonbridge, Blackheath and Brighton on Friday morning, as various forecourts across the UK have been hit by the shortage.

On social media one user said they had been queuing for 30 minutes this morning. Another added: "Went for my normal petrol fill up this morning at 6.45 before taking son to school. Half hour queue just to get to pump."

'Just a handful of stations'

The Transport Secretary played down the impact of firms shutting their petrol stations on Friday morning, as he insisted that just five out of "12 or 1300" BP forecourts were closed.

Grant Shapps was unable to confirm how many Tesco stations had also been shut but said he was meeting with executives this morning.

"Morrisons and Asda are saying they have no problems," he added. "It's quite a defined problem... just a handful of stations are affected."

Mr Shapps rejected suggestions that adding drivers to the shortage occupation list would solve the problem, which he said was global, but added that he was "using every lever" available and would "move heaven and earth".

Queues for fuel at the Tesco petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire, on Friday morning - Geoff Robinson
Queues for fuel at the Tesco petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire, on Friday morning - Geoff Robinson
Brighton UK 24th September 2021 - Customers queue for fuel at a supermarket petrol station in Brighton this morning - Simon Dack News/Alamy Live News
Brighton UK 24th September 2021 - Customers queue for fuel at a supermarket petrol station in Brighton this morning - Simon Dack News/Alamy Live News

BP has said it has "two thirds of normal forecourt stock levels required for smooth operations" and plans to provide 80 per cent of normal services to nine in ten forecourts. Motorway services are expected to be prioritised.

The company added that it was cutting deliveries at 90 per cent of its petrol stations in an attempt to ration the fuel it has in reserve.

ExxonMobil, the oil firm behind Esso, said that forecourts it operates at some Tesco supermarkets had been affected.

The Petrol Retailers Association warned that drivers should keep a quarter of a tank of fuel in their car in case their usual station ran out.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said on Thursday: "There is no shortage of fuel in the UK and people should continue to buy fuel as normal.

"We obviously recognise the challenges faced by the industry and are taking steps to support them."

Shortage of HGV drivers

Britain is facing an estimated shortfall of more than 100,000 lorry drivers as the economy reopens and supply chains are thrown into chaos.

The boss of the Road Haulage Association said the problem would not be fixed quickly, telling Sky News: "We are looking at trucker shortage for at least another year or so, even if the Government tackles the shortage urgently, which they haven’t done until now."

However, Mr Shapps blamed the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency shutdown during lockdown for leading to a shortage of 40,000 lorry drivers.

He insisted Brexit was not at fault, telling Sky News: "I have seen people point to Brexit as if it’s the culprit - in fact they are wrong.

"Not only are there larger shortages in other EU countries.. But because of Brexit I have been able to change the law and alter the way we manage (Covid) tests."

The Transport Secretary added: "The real problem we face is testing, and we know that because as soon as tests become available they are snapped up immediately."

Industry leaders have repeatedly called for fast-track visas for hauliers in Europe so the industry can get more workers.

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