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

Economic IndicatorsSep 26, 2021 04:31PM ET
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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 (NYSE: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 (10)
Gamer Turtle
GamerTurtle Sep 26, 2021 8:40PM ET
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this is the oil scarcity scheme we had, now on natural gas. LoL. at end of the day, citizens are ripped off.
Will Turnage
Bucked_up Sep 26, 2021 8:13PM ET
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Sounds like they are on their way to being carbon neutral, way to lead the world on climate change issues
Zsolt Kovacs
Zsolt Kovacs Sep 26, 2021 5:46PM ET
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Honestly, they deserve it, congrats to Brexit! You want it, you get it!
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Sep 26, 2021 1:30PM ET
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Consider raising prices. (duh.)
Francesco Lucchesi
Francesco Lucchesi Sep 26, 2021 12:20PM ET
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let's all apply for those wonderful jobs. you also get a lovely basement flat somewhere
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 26, 2021 12:18PM ET
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Wow brexit so amazing, such capitalism wow.
Junk Man
Junk_Man Sep 26, 2021 12:16PM ET
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Buy gas from Russia via Germany
Vincent Mwangi
Vincent Mwangi Sep 26, 2021 9:29AM ET
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how I wish I can get such job in the uk
Robert Holm
Robert Holm Sep 26, 2021 6:59AM ET
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I guess only a problem for Fuel powered cars. An other reason to shift to EV's
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John Lakran
John Lakran Sep 26, 2021 6:59AM ET
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can't heat or power
Forex Harbingers
Forex Harbingers Sep 26, 2021 6:59AM ET
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Until those vehicles need to have their batteries replaced and disposed of. hmmm, why does no one consider the toxic waste that will create? farsight and hindsight are horrible traits to have.
John Snowden
John Snowden Sep 26, 2021 6:59AM ET
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this has nothing to do with EVs... this has everything to do with Brexit and the fact that these drivers used to be from other countries.
Brian Chong
Brian Chong Sep 26, 2021 6:59AM ET
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when you have folks who says "another reason for ev", what execuse are they going to day when we encounter electic gris shutdown or shortage of electricity"?
Jeff Chevalier
Jeff Chevalier Sep 26, 2021 6:59AM ET
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How do you think you're going to get gas with no electricity? Ijit..
Christopher Bergner
Bugsy_South_UK Sep 26, 2021 6:39AM ET
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Easy to say that, so all these stations are empty of fuel because of the people?  Come on, this is all being engineered.  Just like all the fake traffic lights, closed roads, free parking that has been made illegal.  Wake up suckers, your government is really working against you, not for you!
 
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