UK may need military to tackle fuel shortage as nine out of ten petrol stations run dry
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was planning to call in the military to drive tankers on Monday as gas stations braced for their fifth day of panic shopping.
On Sunday evening, the government triggered emergency measures amid a warning from the Petrol Retailers Association that up to 90% of forecourts were dry.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has suspended competition laws for the fuel industry, which will allow suppliers to top up competing sites if stocks run out.
However, Brian Madderson, president of the PRA, said that while the move would be welcomed by the industry, it was unlikely to be a game-changer.
Mr Johnson had to decide whether the military should be called in to drive tankers amid a chronic shortage of heavy truck drivers, according to reports.
The Times quoted a high-level government source to suggest that ministers wanted to deploy troops within days rather than wait for the problem to worsen.
The UK suffers from a severe shortage of truck drivers, which has made it difficult for suppliers to deliver enough fuel to stations.
On Saturday, ministers announced a temporary visa program, allowing 5,000 foreign truck drivers to work in the UK on three-month contracts before Christmas.
However, some industry figures have stated that this is only a short-term solution and will not eliminate shortages in the long term.
Mac Fels, director of the HGV Recruitment Center, said overseas workers “are not going to make a huge dent in the 90,000 to 100,000 that we estimate to be short.”
Announcing the suspension of competition laws, Mr Kwarteng said, âWe have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with the industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can always be made. be carried out in the event of a serious disturbance.
âWhile there has always been and always has been a lot of fuel in refineries and terminals, we recognize that there have been issues with supply chains.
“That is why we will adopt the Downstream Petroleum Protocol to ensure that the industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure that disruption is minimized.”
Mr Madderson told BBC Radio 4 Today program, the problem is concentrated in urban areas of England, Wales and Scotland.
He said that a gas station received a delivery in the morning on Sunday and that by the afternoon “the whole tanker was missing in people’s cars.”
He said he hoped the supply issues would be “less of a problem by the end of this week” and added weight to the prime minister’s plan to use soldiers, saying the troops were being trained “in background “to drive heavy goods.
“One of our members with a very large site, he said sales volume was 500% higher than the previous Saturday,” he told Sky News this morning.
âSo people didn’t buy their regular 20 and 30 liters to get them through the week, they actually refueled every time.
“And of course, with 36 million vehicles on the road, the capacity of their tanks is far greater than what we have entirely underground.”
Mr Madderson said between 50 and 90% of the PRA member courts, which make up the majority of service stations in Britain, were out of fuel.
BP said on Sunday that nearly a third of its gas stations were running out of the two main grades of fuel.
Last week, drivers were told to keep a quarter of a full tank to avoid running out of fuel halfway.
The PRA boss pointed the finger at the whistleblower who leaked a report on truck driver shortages last week, triggering “chaos” at the pumps.
He said the problem was “completely well under control at this stage by industry and government moving towards a solution.”
Meanwhile, French European Affairs Minister ClÃ©ment Beaune blamed Brexit for the fuel crisis plaguing Britain.
On Monday, he said the problems affecting motorists across the country reflected the “intellectual fraud” that was Brexit.
“Every day we see the intellectual fraud that was Brexit,” Beaune told France 2 television.
Updated: September 27, 2021 8:03 AM