The Petrol Retailers Association has said that while the overall picture around the UK has improved, it remains serious in the South East of England where there are serious shortages
Petrol shortages are at a “critical” level in London and the South East of England where many forecourts are without fuel, said retailers.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) has said there is a notable improvement overall around the country but in their survey of 1,000 petrol stations, still 16 per cent have no fuel.
A Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy internal assessment, reportedly seen by the Telegraph, similarly said that London, and the South East of England were on a “red list” that showed stocks were below 20 per cent.
Army drivers are to join the effort to refuel petrol stations from tomorrow and the PRA are calling for them to target the south east of England after a chaotic week of shortages that has resulted in panic buying and some drivers hoarding petrol in water bottles.
At the same time there is a fear of a price spike in fuel that could go up by a reported five pence per litre next week.
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This is thought to be down to the rising price of oil and a weak pound against the dollar, but also there have been claims that some petrol stations have been “opportunistic” in rising prices.
The UK has been hit by long queues for petrol due to shortages and panic buying. Supply problems have been caused by a lack of drivers and this has led to the military stepping in.
Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, told the BBC: “While more fuel is being delivered to forecourts than is being sold overall, the situation remains critical in London and the South East where many filling stations remain dry.”
He backed the help from military drivers and the extension of the HGV visa cut-off to March next year, to help ease the crisis.
Mr Madderson also felt that special focus in supply needs to be on the South East of England.
He told the Telegraph: ““In London and the South East and possibly parts of eastern England, if anything, it had got worse.
“We do need a prioritisation of deliveries to filling stations – particularly the independent ones which are the neighbourhood retail sites – in London and the South East, starting immediately.”
The PRA also would like to see deliveries going to high streets ahead of supermarkets so as boost public confidence as the people could see the petrol available and so not panic buy.
The chairman of the PRA told Sky News his organisation’s survey showed that only 16 per cent of more than 1,000 sites checked on Saturday had no fuel, an improvement on the 27 per cent reported to be dry on Friday, but local bottlenecks remained.
The survey also showed that 68 per cent of sites now had both petrol and diesel available to buy.
Stories have appeared on social media of petrol stations that have raised prices to allegedly take advantage of the shortages with prices believed to be as high as 293p a litre.
Howard Cox, Fair Fuel UK’s founder, told the Telegraph: “With the oil price hitting $80 a barrel, weaker sterling and of course, Grant Shapps’s naive ‘don’t panic buy’ proclamation, the perfect opportunistic time to make hard pressed drivers pay more to fill up is in place for the greedy unchecked fuel supply-chain businesses.”
With an acute shortage of truck drivers straining supply chains to breaking point, the Government said on Friday that 200 military tanker personnel will complete their training over the weekend and start deliveries on Monday.
Members of the military were pictured at Buncefield Oil Depot at Hemel Hempstead, north of London, on Saturday.
Health minister Sajid Javid said earlier in the day that the supply situation was no longer deteriorating.
He said: “It seems the situation is stabilising, it’s not completely over yet, that’s one of the reasons that the army have been asked to help.”