Panic buying leaves up to 90% of petrol pumps dry in major UK cities


A BP petrol station running out of gas is seen in London, Britain on September 26, 2021. REUTERS / Paul Childs

  • Petrol stations are running dry in major UK cities
  • Truck driver shortage is straining UK economy
  • Britain relaxes competition rules

LONDON, Sept. 27 (Reuters) – Up to 90% of UK gas stations in major English cities ran dry on Monday after panic buying exacerbated a supply chain crisis sparked by a shortage of truckers who , according to retailers, could hit the world’s fifth-largest economy.

A severe shortage of truck drivers after Brexit in Britain has wreaked havoc on supply chains in everything from food to fuel, raising fears of disruption and price hikes in the run-up to Christmas.

Just days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government spent millions of pounds to avert a food shortage due to soaring prices for natural gas and its byproduct, carbon dioxide, ministers asked several times people to refrain from buying panic.

But queues of dozens of cars returned from gas stations across the country on Sunday, gobbling up supplies and forcing many gas stations to simply close. Pumps in British cities were either closed or had signs indicating that fuel was not available, Reuters reporters said.

“Some of our members, large groups with a portfolio of sites, are reporting 50% dry yesterday, some even reporting 90% dry yesterday,” Brian Madderson, president of the Petrol Retailers Association, told Sky.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) represents the independent fuel retailers who now represent 65% of all forecourts in the UK.

“So you can see it’s pretty sharp,” Madderson said. “Monday morning will start off pretty dry.”

BP (BP.L) said on Sunday nearly a third of its UK service stations were running out of the two main grades of fuel as panic buying forced the government to suspend competition laws and allow businesses to work together to alleviate shortages. Read more

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the suspension would allow companies to share information and coordinate their response.

“This step will allow the government to work constructively with fuel producers, suppliers, carriers and retailers to ensure that disruptions are minimized as much as possible,” the trade department said in a statement.

The government on Sunday announced a plan to issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers.

But business leaders have warned that the government’s plan is a short-term solution and will not solve a severe labor shortage.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alistair Smout and Catherine Evans

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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