How Long Will The U.K. Fuel Crisis Last? Here Are Five of Your Biggest Questions, Answered
U.K. drivers are queuing for fuel in scenes that are reminiscent of the 1970s, creating a national crisis out of something that what was initially a relatively minor logistics problem.
The government has responded by enacting the Downstream Oil Protocol - exempting industry from competition law - and putting military tanker drivers on standby. Other measures, like making 5,000 short-term visas available for foreign drivers and encouraging retired U.K. drivers to return to work, aren’t expected to provide a quick solution.
Here are five big questions being asked about the crisis on the web.
Where can I buy fuel right now?
It’s a fast-changing situation. The country’s main sellers are saying nothing of substance about availability, other than that they are working hard to sort it out and that it’s changing from one moment to the next, and from one location to the next. Their main advice is to go back to normal buying behavior as this will allow them to get services back up and running normally again sooner.
When will fuel crisis end?
Fuel companies and the government keep saying that there is no shortage, just a bottleneck in getting it from refineries and storage sites to filling stations. Things could return to normal within a few days, especially if the military drivers are used to increase the number of deliveries. It does depend on how fast drivers go back to their normal buying patterns, which will be affected by how much they have in their tanks.
What is the fuel competition law?
There isn’t a specific law for competition in the fuel supply industry, but it comes under the Competition Act 1998. That prevents companies colluding, including sharing information, to reduce competitive behavior. These restrictions have been eased temporarily for the companies delivering and selling road fuels. This is to enable them to share information on where they are making deliveries so that they can coordinate nationally and avoid all of them delivering fuel to the same part of the country and leaving other parts short of supply.
Can the army help?
Yes. Using military drivers to carry fuel to civilian service stations is one of the tools at the government’s disposal for dealing with the crisis. A 2017 document published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, setting out proposals to strengthen the resilience of fuel supply to U.K. consumers, identified using military tanker drivers to maintain fuel deliveries as “a last resort.” The U.K. government has now put military drivers on standby.
Does fuel expire?
It does degrade over time, but can be kept in proper tanks for many months. But, please, don’t stockpile gallons and gallons of fuel in jerry cans in your spare bedroom. Leakage of highly flammable vapors poses a serious risk of explosion and death. Speaking of storage, fuel isn’t toilet paper: the space to store it is far more finite -- something that will also infuence when this crisis ends.
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