BP Blames Panic Buying for Fuel Shortage at U.K. Stations
(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, the second-largest fuel retailer in the U.K., said it has run out of the main grades at almost a third of its stations in the country following days of panic buying.
“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 said in a statement Sunday. The London-based company said most of its 1,200 sites in the U.K. remain supplied and open.
A shortage of truck drivers, which had already left some British supermarkets unable to fill their shelves, began to hit fueling stations late last week. BP and Exxon Mobil Corp. were among companies saying the driver shortage had affected operations at their gas stations, while EG Group said it would limit customers to 30 pounds ($41) of fuel, enough to fill about one-third of a tank.
The crisis has caused Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cave into industry demands to issue foreign truck drivers with temporary work visas, through Christmas Eve.
The government said late on Saturday it will issue 5,000 visas to drivers and 5,500 to poultry workers. That’s still far from the roughly 100,000 heavy goods vehicle drivers the country needs, according to estimates from the Road Haulage Association.
BP said it’s working with its haulier supplier Hoyer to minimize disruptions.
In west London on Sundaym around Chiswick and Richmond, at least four stations had completely run out of fuel. Another had gasoline but not diesel. Gas stations run by other companies had fuel, although all visited by Bloomberg News were limiting purchases to £30 per customer.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc said that since Friday it has seen higher-than-normal demand across its network “which is resulting in some sites running low on some grades.”
“We are replenishing these quickly, usually within 24 hours,” it added. Any measures “that will help to ease the pressure on the fuel supply chain are welcome,” it said.
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