Petrol will continue to flow, says transport secretary
People should carry on buying petrol as normal, despite supply problems that have closed some stations, the government has said.
A “handful” of BP stations, and a small number of Esso-owned Tesco Alliance stations, were closed on Thursday because of a lack of delivery drivers.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said refineries had “plenty of petrol”.
He told the BBC that the government could bring in the army to drive fuel tankers if it would help.
It is estimated that the UK is short of about 100,000 HGV drivers – with gaps made worse by the pandemic and Brexit.
Reports in several newspapers have suggested that the government is considering getting soldiers to drive fuel tankers under emergency plans.
When questioned about this on BBC Breakfast, Mr Shapps said: “If it can actually help, we will bring them in.”
However, he said there would be “technicalities” as to whether military personnel could switch to driving civilian vehicles.
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The AA said that most of the UK’s forecourts were working as they should.
“There is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems,” said AA president Edmund King.
“Fridays and the weekend always tend to be busier on forecourts, as drivers either combine filling up with shopping runs, prepare for weekend trips or refuel for the start of the new working week.”
Mr King said drivers should not fill up outside their normal routines, because even if the occasional petrol station was temporarily closed, others just down the road would be open.
“It is now clear that there have been occasional delays over recent weeks that have been managed with hardly anyone noticing. This was a manageable problem.”
There are about 8,380 petrol stations in the UK, according to the Petrol Retailers Association. Of these, about 1% are believed to be closed at the moment.
It is understood that about 50 to 100 BP forecourts are affected by shortages, while Esso said “a small number” of its Tesco Alliance retail sites had been hit.