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Drivers should buy fuel as normal, says government

Drivers are being urged not to panic buy fuel, as the Government and fuel industry say the vast majority of sites are still open and there is no fuel shortage in the UK.

FairFuleUK has proposed to government the implementation of a PumpWatch voluntary code, whereby the price at the pump better reflects the wholesale price of oil

The AA said thousands of forecourts are operating normally, with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems

According to reports, a number of BP, Tesco and Esso sites have been hit by closures due to the HGV driver shortage and a lack of deliveries.

It’s estimated that the UK is short of about 100,000 HGV drivers and reports suggest that the Government is considering getting soldiers to drive fuel tankers under emergency plans.

But the companies themselves said that only a handful of sites are affected, which are being re-opened as soon as deliveries arrive. They added that reports of rationing are untrue.

A government spokesperson said “there is no shortage of fuel in the UK” and urged people to “continue to buy fuel as normal”. The spokesman added that the Government is already taking action to increase the supply of HGV drivers and will continue work to understand how it can best ease particular pinch points.

The AA has also called for calm, amid reports of panic buying, and echoed the Government’s comment that there is no shortage of fuel.

“Thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems,” said Edmund King, the AA’s president.

“Fridays and the weekend always tend to be busier on forecourts as drivers either combine filling up with shopping runs, prepare for weekend trips or refuel for the start of the new working week.

“Drivers should not fill up outside their normal routines because, even if the occasional petrol station is temporarily closed, others just down the road will be open.”

King added that road fuel demand currently stands at 92% of pre-pandemic levels according to monitoring by the Government.

The RAC also urged drivers not to panic.

Fuel spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Drivers should not be concerned about fuel supplies running low. There remains an abundance of forecourts with plenty of fuel to go around.”

Only a ‘handful’ of sites affected

In a statement, BP said it was seeing some fuel supply issues at some of retail sites and “unfortunately have therefore seen a handful of sites temporarily close due to a lack of both unleaded and diesel grades”. This is across a network of 1,200 BP-branded sites across the UK.

Moreover, the affected sites are changing regularly as deliveries are made and BP said it’s prioritising the deliveries being made to ensure that it keeps fuel at key sites such as motorway service stations.

And according to Tesco and ExxonMobil, only a small number of Esso-operated retail sites and currently two Tesco-operated sites have been affected. Both firms added that they are working to optimise supplies and minimise any inconvenience to customers.

A Tesco spokesperson continued: “We have good availability of fuel, with deliveries arriving at our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.”

While the issue is being seen across the sector, large independents have confirmed they are not going to be shutting any petrol stations.

The industry has also refuted reports that fuel is being rationed and said these are highly inaccurate.

The UK Petrol Industry Association (UKPIA) said the fuel supply chain is resilient and fuel is currently getting to the vast majority of consumers.

A spokesperson continued: “The sector will keep working to ensure that remains the case.

“There have been a few confirmed reports of temporary forecourt grade-outs in parts of the UK. These have been caused by some delays in the supply chain due to haulier driver shortages, which are not unique to the downstream sector but are being seen across the economy.

“Industry and government will continue to work together to reinforce the sector’s workforce to ensure fuel and other supply chains remain strong for years to come.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.