The RAC motoring group has said the fuel shortage problem continues to ease, although many areas of the UK are still suffering supply issues.
The RAC reported that smaller fuel stations were still experiencing major supply issues as drivers filled up for the weekend.
BP previously stated that problems at its stations caused by a shortage of HGV drivers were beginning to improve.
It comes as Hoyer Petrolog, a major fuel delivery company, confirmed that it was training army drivers.
According to the RAC, its patrol vehicles dealt with nearly five times the usual number of out-of-fuel breakdowns on Thursday. However, this was a decrease from the 13 times it dealt with on Monday.
While fuel delivery continues to improve in many areas, Mr Williams stated that this is not the case across the country.
“Those drivers who rely on independent forecourts, particularly in areas where there are no supermarkets selling fuel, may still struggle to fill up.”
BP was the first company to warn it had to close some petrol stations due to a shortage of drivers, which has worsened due to Covid and Brexit. But the company said on Friday the situation was “stabilising”.
Hoyer, a major fuel delivery supplier to BP forecourts and other outlets, confirmed to the BBC that it had been training army drivers for the past two days.
Hoyer, which supplies approximately 25% of the UK’s gas stations, was unable to confirm how many army personnel were being trained or when they would begin work. The army drivers, on the other hand, will use a mix of Hoyer and military vehicles to make deliveries, according to the company.
The United Kingdom has been dealing with a fuel crisis, which has resulted in long lines outside some gas stations and forced customers to drive around multiple locations in search of supplies.
BP said the situation had improved in recent days and that it was “working flat out” to keep sites across the country supplied.
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While the government and retailers claim that there is enough fuel at UK refineries, a driver shortage has slowed fuel delivery to gas stations.
According to the haulage industry, a current shortage of lorry drivers has been exacerbated by a number of factors, including the pandemic, Brexit, an ageing workforce, low wages, and poor working conditions.
“My latest briefing is that the situation is stabilising, that we are seeing more forecourts with a greater supply of fuel, and hopefully that, as demand and supply come better into balance over the next few days, week or so, that we will see a return to normality,” policing minister Kit Malthouse said on the BBC’s Today programme.
He added that if the situation worsened again, Prime Minister Boris Johnson would review the situation.
Labour leader Kier Starmer, on the other hand, said it was time for “emergency action” because the “chaos” appeared to be continuing.
“We’re going to see this driver shortage problem resurface in different sectors,” he predicted.
“According to the government, their scheme will not be operational for several weeks, with the first HGV drivers not taking to the roads until November.” This is simply insufficient.”
He advocated for the use of the military to deliver gasoline to areas of the country in greatest need, as well as for fuel stations with supplies to extend their hours of operation for NHS shift workers and other critical workers.
By Esyllt Carr
“Normally, a tanker would last three to four days, but now it sells out in 12 hours,” says Danyal Shoaib, owner of a petrol station near Leatherhead, Surrey. He claims they’ve run out of water three times in the last week.
“I believe social media has played a significant role.” “Anyone who sees a tanker puts it online, and queues form all the way down the road,” he says.
Mr. Shoaib says the abuse he and his colleagues have received from “a significant minority” of customers has surprised him.
“When I politely asked him to join the end of the queue, he tried to drive his car into me to get me to move,” he says. He was subjected to abusive language, including “quite obscene racial slurs,” after asking the man to calm down.
Despite this, Mr Shoaib says they’ve received “hundreds of lovely messages” thanking them, and they’ve seen “huge relief” on people’s faces when they can fill up.
“What we’re saying to people is, if you can, please be reasonable,” he says at his gas station. If you can get away with half a tank or three-quarters of a tank, please do so.”
According to the BBC, demand at supermarkets Asda and Morrisons is also easing, continuing a trend that has been observed throughout the week.
“It is a rapidly changing situation, and we are working hard with our suppliers to ensure we can continue to keep our pumps open and serve our customers,” a Morrisons spokesperson said.
Sainsbury’s, which has over 300 stores in total, stated that there is still a high demand for fuel.
“We’re working closely with our supplier to ensure supply is maintained, and all of our sites are receiving fuel,” a spokesperson said.
“We have good availability of fuel,” Tesco added, “and we’re working really hard every day to ensure regular deliveries to our petrol filling stations across the UK.”
The company owns and operates 500 gas stations, with another 200 managed by Esso and a Tesco Express store on-site.
According to an Esso spokesman, a number of its Tesco Alliance locations were impacted.
“The picture is constantly changing,” they said, “but the situation at the 200 Esso Tesco Alliance sites is stabilising and improving in terms of fuel availability.”
The situation at the pumps appears to have slowed and possibly stalled, similar to a car running out of gas.
Fuel demand remains far below normal, and the picture is hazy.
While there are encouraging signs from some sectors of the industry that fuel is being delivered, those selling it are still encountering long lines, particularly in London and the south east.
The situation is not as bad as it was last weekend, but it is far from over. The messaging could be difficult for the government to manage. Ministers risk losing the public’s trust if they tell everyone that the crisis has been resolved before it has died down.
The question now is what will persuade the public to resume normal purchasing habits.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) represents nearly 5,500 of the 8,300 petrol stations in the United Kingdom.
On Friday, it stated that little had changed for its members, who are independent fuel retailers.
Its survey of 1,100 sites across the UK discovered that 26% had no petrol or diesel in stock, down from 27% on Thursday.
“While the situation is similar to recent days, there are signs that it is improving, but far too slowly,” said Gordon Balmer, its executive director.
“Independents, which account for 65 percent of the total network, do not receive enough fuel deliveries when compared to other sectors.”
Mr Balmer predicted that queues would form until independent retailers received more frequent deliveries.
Driver hours extension
In an effort to minimise disruption, the government has confirmed that 5,000 fuel tanker and food lorry drivers will be eligible for temporary UK visas, which will expire on Christmas Eve.
A temporary relaxation on drivers’ hours has also been extended until 31 October. This enables the daily driving limit to be increased from nine to ten hours four times per week.
According to a government spokesperson, the government has taken “immediate action” to increase the supply of HGV drivers and relieve pressure on gas stations.
“We recognise the industry’s challenges and streamlined the testing process in July to increase the number of drivers,” they said, adding that it was critical that people continue to buy fuel as usual.