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BP says nearly a third of its UK fuel stations running on empty

Economic IndicatorsSep 26, 2021 21:34
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3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Britain's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, September 15, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo 2/3

By William James

BRIGHTON, England (Reuters) -BP said nearly a third of its British petrol stations had run out of the two main grades of fuel on Sunday as panic buying forced the government to suspend competition laws and allow firms to work together to ease shortages.

Lines of vehicles formed at petrol stations for a third day running as motorists waited, some for hours, to fill up with fuel after oil firms reported a lack of drivers was causing transport problems from refineries to forecourts.

Some operators have had to ration supplies and others to close gas stations.

"With the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30% of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel," BP (LON:BP), which operates 1,200 sites in Britain, said in statement.

"We are working to resupply as rapidly as possible."

The fuel panic comes as Britain faces several crises: an international gas price surge that is forcing energy firms out of business, a related shortage of carbon dioxide that threatens to derail meat production, and a shortage of truck drivers that is playing havoc with retailers and leaving some shelves bare.

Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell (LON:RDSa) said that it had also seen increased demand for fuel.

In response business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he was suspending competition laws to allow firms to share information and coordinate their response.

"This step will allow government to work constructively with fuel producers, suppliers, hauliers and retailers to ensure that disruption is minimised as far as possible," the business department said in a statement.

Transport minister Grant Shapps had earlier appealed for calm, saying the shortages were purely caused by panic buying, and that the situation would eventually resolve itself because fuel could not be stockpiled.

"There's plenty of fuel, there's no shortage of the fuel within the country," Shapps told Sky News.

"So the most important thing is actually that people carry on as they normally would and fill up their cars when they normally would, then you won't have queues and you won't have shortages at the pump either."

After meeting Kwarteng, industry figures including representatives from Shell and Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM) said in a joint statement issued by the business department that they had been reassured, and stressed there was no national fuel shortage.

'MANUFACTURED SITUATION'

Earlier, Shapps said the shortage of truck drivers was down to COVID-19 disrupting the qualification process, preventing new labour from entering the market.

Others pinned the blame on Brexit and poor working conditions forcing out foreign drivers.

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

But business leaders have warned the government's plan is a short-term fix and will not solve an acute labour shortage that risks major disruption beyond fuel deliveries, including for retailers in the run-up to Christmas.

Shapps called the panic over fuel a "manufactured situation" and blamed it on a hauliers' association.

"They're desperate to have more European drivers undercutting British salaries," he said.

An Opinium poll published in the Observer newspaper on Sunday said that 67% of voters believe the government has handled the crisis badly. A majority of 68% said that Brexit was partly to blame.

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, speaking at his party's annual conference in southern England, said ministers had failed to plan for labour shortages following the 2016 Brexit vote and called for a bigger temporary visa scheme.

BP says nearly a third of its UK fuel stations running on empty
 

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Comments (1)
Chris B South UK
Chris B South UK Sep 26, 2021 11:44
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Its not your car driver who has bought all the diesel is it?  More and more electric cars and now there is a problem with gas supplies which power most of our power stations, because all the coal ones have been closed!  Will we be facing brown outs in the winter, maybe?  Within a few years very likely.
ian Chamberlain
ian Chamberlain Sep 26, 2021 11:44
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given the climate issues (and I'm not a tree hugger!) does seem like a forward thinking comment. the UK was right to move away from coal in the 90s in favour of renewable. however they are missing huge opportunities, all the new houses and commercial buildings should be forced to have have solar panels covering the entire roof area making each house self sufficient (granted only during daylight hours unless batteries are added). the transition to electric cars, each with a powerful battery can charge up during the day and discharge in the evening balancing the grid. of course solar alone is not enough, hence a mix of energy is needed, but coal is not appropriate anymore
jan hui
jan hui Sep 26, 2021 11:44
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ian Chamberlain all irrelevant. New homes are already built with a degree of renewable energy incorporated.All pointless now that we are out of EU constraints, we will fasttrack nuclear and produce hydrogen off of nuclear to use our current gas infrastucture.Nuclear is inevitable and will exponentially cut fossil fuels and accelerate carbon reduction.Super clean energy producing net zero byproduce limiting our reliance on fossil fuels. We could frack more, but thats truly a pointless endeavour.I guess you could say its all in the pipeline...
pardip kandola
pardip kandola Sep 26, 2021 11:44
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coal plant in Derby was turned on weeks ago so the are not closed just on back up
Phil Long
Phil Long Sep 26, 2021 11:44
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nuclear + electric cars
Pedro Gonzalez
Pedro Gonzalez Sep 26, 2021 11:44
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Perfect storm with pandemic now inflation an shortages. Games a bogey.
 
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