UK fuel crisis: Independent brands say 90% of petrol station sites are dry

·4-min read
'Sorry Out Of Use' signs seen at an empty Texaco gas station in central London. Many stations have run out of petrol due to a shortage of truck drivers, linked to Brexit and panic buying. (Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
'Sorry Out Of Use' signs seen at an empty Texaco gas station in central London on Sunday. (PA)

Some independent petrol brands have reported that 90% of their sites are dry, as the UK’s fuel crisis continues.

There were long queues for pumps across mainland Britain at the weekend as panic buying took hold amid an HGV delivery driver shortage that has adversely impacted supply at the country’s petrol stations.

The government has created 5,000 temporary three-month visas for foreign tanker drivers, while competition laws for the industry have been suspended to allow suppliers to reach stations that are low on fuel.

Read more: Fuel campaigner besieged by motorists looking for fuel

But on Monday, Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association, said some brands are seeing as many as 90% of their sites running dry.

“We did a straw poll yesterday morning of a number of our members who have around 200 sites between them,” he told LBC.

Watch: Petrol retailers say industry 'won't cope' if panic buying continues

“50% of those we spoke to said their sites were dry and some actually said 90% of their sites were dry.

“It is on a company-by-company basis and almost on a brand-by-brand basis because some oil companies are still relatively OK in terms of deliveries.”

The association says up to two-thirds of its membership of 5,500 independent outlets are out of fuel, with the rest about to run out soon.

There are more than 8,000 filling stations in the UK.

When asked about temporary visas for HGV drivers, Balmer said: “We are a fuel retailing trade association, not a logistics company, but I would have thought anything like that is going to help, but from what I hear maybe that’s not enough, so I know the government are looking at other measures such as drafting in military drivers.

“What we’re hoping is a lot of people have filled up over the weekend, a lot of people only fill up once a month, that might give us some respite to start to replenish stocks over the next few days.”

The Petrol Retailers Association’s chairman, Brian Madderson, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday that dry sites “are being restocked at the present time but the number of tankers that they’re receiving are below the number that they need to be properly restocked at their normal level of between 40% and 50%”.

'Sorry No Fuel Left' sign seen at an empty Texaco gas station in central London. Many stations have run out of petrol due to a shortage of truck drivers, linked to Brexit and panic buying. (Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
'Sorry No Fuel Left' sign seen at an empty Texaco gas station in central London. (PA)
Cars queue for fuel at a BP petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire. Picture date: Sunday September 26, 2021.
Cars queue for fuel at a BP petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire, on Sunday. (PA)

 He said: “With the problem of dry sites, we’re really talking more about the concentrated urban areas than we are the rural areas at this stage”.

He said the suspension in competition law was “just one of the helps” and not a game-changer.

Madderson, who previously described the petrol purchasing among the public as “frenzied”, said using the army to drive fuel trucks is “not an absolute panacea” to resolve the fuel crisis.

It was widely reported on Monday that prime minister Boris Johnson is considering bringing in army personnel to drive oil tankers.

However, environment secretary George Eustice said the government has “no plans at the moment” to use the army to drive petrol tankers amid continuing shortages at filling stations.

Eustice said there was not a shortage of fuel and called on motorists to stop “panic-buying” petrol and return to their normal pattern of purchasing.

Long waits at filling stations saw police called to a scuffle at a north London forecourt on Sunday as motorists continued their panic buying, which was sparked after concerns from BP were leaked to the media that the lorry driver shortage could impact its ability to keep up with fuel deliveries.

In a joint statement from the likes of Shell, ExxonMobile and Greenergy, the industry reiterated that the pressures on supply were being caused by “temporary spikes in customer demand, not a national shortage of fuel”.

Watch: Fight breaks out at fuel pumps as petrol stations run dry

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