U.K. Fuel Shortages Ease but Situation Worsens Around London
(Bloomberg) -- The move to deploy the British Army to deliver petrol only went part-way to reassuring motorists as the supply crisis gripping the U.K. extends into a second week.
The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent filling stations, said there’s been “a distinct improvement” for the country as a whole, but conditions are still poor in many regions.
“In London and the Southeast, and possibly parts of eastern England, if anything it has got worse,” the PRA’s Brian Madderson told the BBC on Saturday. Rising prices at the pump would be the next shoe to drop, he said, as global oil prices jump.
In all, the association said a survey of 1,000 independent petrol stations showed that 16% of stations were still dry and another 16% had only one grade of fuel available as of Saturday.
Army personnel will start delivering fuel to forecourts across the country starting Monday, the most drastic government intervention yet to try to resolve a crisis that’s gripped the nation.
Almost 200 members of the military, including 100 drivers, will be deployed to distribute fuel, the government has said.
It also beefed up measures announced just a week ago to bring foreign workers to the U.K., allowing 300 fuel drivers to come immediately, and extending an emergency visa program for haulage drivers into 2022 rather than have it end on Christmas Eve.
Madderson told the BBC he’d had a “long conversation” with the government.
“We do need a prioritization of deliveries to filling stations, particularly the independent ones,” he said. He added that conditions have improved in Scotland, the north of England, and parts of the Midlands.
The decisions come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to assuage his followers at the Conservative Party’s annual conference that his administration has the situation under control.
The government said more fuel is now being delivered to the pumps than is being sold, and repeated that there’s no national shortage.
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