UK fuel crisis ‘could go on for further week’ despite military help

One in five forecourts in London and south-east of England still out of fuel

The UK fuel crisis could run another week, fuel retailers have warned, as military tanker drivers took to the roads to relieve pressure on petrol stations.

One in five forecourts in London and the south-east of England were still out of fuel on Monday, according to the Petrol Retailers Association, compared with just 8% across the rest of the country, where the shortage appears to be almost over.

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the PRA, said national fuel supplies were improving. But the situation is still challenging in south-east England and the capital, where about 62% of forecourts had both petrol and diesel on offer on Monday, compared with 86% in the rest of the country.

Balmer said the continued shortages in the south-east were because of the higher population and lower number of fuel stations per head. He told Sky News it could take a week to 10 days for local forecourts to restock, even with the help of the armed forces, who have been deployed to deliver fuel amid a national shortage of HGV drivers.

Military arrives to ease fuel crisis, and EG Group lifts £30 cap – as it happened​

Almost 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, began to be deployed from Monday, after being trained at haulier sites across the country over the past week. They will be used to ship fuel to forecourts that are still struggling to meet demand or are dry after the increase in buying.

Balmer said many of his members had been out of fuel since the panic buying began, including BP forecourts. “Some of our members tell us they have been without fuel for a number of days – some over a week now,” he said. “One of the situations seems to be worse with BP but we do know that they are rectifying that.”

He added that extending visas for foreign HGV drivers until March would also help, as would improving terms and conditions to attract new recruits and unblocking the backlog of driver applications and return to work applications at the DVLA.

EG Group announced on Monday afternoon that it was removing its £30 cap on buying fuel as the situation on its forecourts has improved, although there were still challenges at its locations in the south and the south-east of England.

Downing Street said fuel stocks had continued to improve over the weekend, with “more fuel being delivered than is being used”. The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “That’s been a sustained picture for a number of days now.”

The spokesperson added that officials “fully appreciate” the continued challenges, particularly in London and the south-east, “and how frustrating that must be … That’s why we’re doing everything possible, including using armed forces personnel, to bolster getting in more supply.”

The spokesperson said the initial request for assistance from the armed forces would last for 31 days but that the government would stay engaged with the industry regarding the next steps.

The price of oil rallied on Monday after the Opec+ group decided to stick to its plan of increasing supplies only gradually, despite pressure to pump more.

Brent crude jumped 2.5% to hit $82 a barrel for the first time since October 2018, while US crude hit a seven-year high, above $78 a barrel.

Extracted from The Guardian

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