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‘Tentative signs of stabilisation’ at petrol stations, says Government

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said there are “tentative signs of stabilisation” at UK petrol stations, as he urged drivers to return to normal fuel buying habits.

A joint statement issued by the fuel industry yesterday confirmed that fuel supplies at UK refineries and terminals remain high and urged drivers to continue to buy fuel as normal

While media reports of continued panic buying, lengthy queues and petrol station closures continue, Shapps commented in an online clip that a lot of fuel had already been transferred to drivers and said there were the first signs of stabilisation in the forecourt storage, supported by new measures.

He added that this won’t be reflected in the queues as yet, continuing: “But it’s the first time that we have seen more petrol in the petrol stations itself.

“As the industry said yesterday, the sooner we can all return to our normal buying habits, the sooner the situation will return to normal.”

Shapps also reiterated calls for everyone “to play their part” and not panic buy, and urged drivers not to do things like bring water bottles to petrol stations, after multiple online videos emerged of drivers doing so.

“It’s dangerous and extremely unhelpful,” he continued.

Latest information from Halfords shows jerry can sales boomed by 1,656% this weekend as fuel chaos gripped the country.

Shapps also said the Government had introduced a lot of different measures to help resolve the situation – the Army coming into familiarise itself with distribution was the 18th separate measure taken.

Yesterday saw the Government announce that a limited number of military tanker drivers will be put on a state of readiness and deployed if necessary to further stabilise the fuel supply chain.

It’s also announced an extension to ADR driver licences – which allow drivers to transport goods, such as fuel – permitting drivers to maximise their available capacity instead of being taken out of circulation for refresher training purposes.

Over the weekend, the Government also relaxed competition rules to make it easier for industry to share information, and prioritise the delivery of fuel to the parts of the country and strategic locations that are most in need.

The comments from Grant Shapps follow a joint statement issued by the fuel industry confirming that fuel supplies at UK refineries and terminals remain high, as well as encouraging the public to continue to purchase fuel as normal and not panic buy.

But petrol retailers have warned that panic buying of petrol is continuing today and there have been calls for further action – including through giving key workers priority access via emergency rule changes and by introducing a national cap.

The Petrol Retailers Association – which represents independent fuel retailers that account for 65% of all UK forecourts – told Sky News that sites were still running out of fuel but demand was easing.

Chairman Brian Madderson said: “There are still demand levels still above the norm, and as a result many of our members have sites dry. Many of the big groups are down to about 50% of sites.

“There is still a problem out there.

“There is still a bit of panic buying, there’s still queuing, but we are hopeful that we are seeing the first signs of a move towards equilibrium later in the week.”

The RAC has also called for calm as it said that while there’s no shortage of fuel at refineries, the panic buying over the weekend has put unbelievable pressure on the supply chain.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “We urge drivers to only take the fuel they really need. Stock piling in containers only makes the situation worse for those who desperately need fuel as well as potentially causing unnecessary fire risks if not stored correctly. It’s also vitally important the emergency services and businesses that help to keep the UK moving can get access to fuel. We have also seen an increase in our patrols attending drivers who have run out of fuel over the weekend.”

The RAC also said that pump prices, were a “pretty bleak picture for drivers”

Williams continued: “With the cost of oil rising and now near a three-year high, wholesale prices are being forced up which means retailers are paying more than they were just a few days ago for the same amount of fuel. This has led to the price of a litre of unleaded already going up by a penny since Friday. We might yet see higher forecourt prices in the coming days, irrespective of the current supply problems. We are also aware of a small number of retailers taking advantage of the current delivery situation by hiking prices, so we’d remind drivers to always compare the price they’re being asked to pay with the current UK averages which are 136.59p for petrol and 138.48p for diesel.”

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

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.

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