U.K. Fuel Stations Seen Taking Weeks to Return to Normal - BLOOMBERG
OCTOBER 01, 2021
U.K. motorists will have to wait weeks for fuel supply to return to normal, prolonging a shortage that has caused chaos across the country.
More than a quarter of the nation’s service stations have no fuel, and another 20% have only one grade in stock, according to the U.K. Petrol Retailers Association. Around London, many service stations were still closed, while those that did have supplies were surrounded by long lines of cars waiting to fill up.
“It will take a number of weeks to get it back to more normal running levels” with no lines or shortages at service stations, Gordon Balmer, executive director of the PRA, said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio on Friday.
The government says its emergency measures -- deploying a fleet of reserve tankers and putting the army on standby to drive trucks -- have eased the crisis. But there was little sign that drivers were heeding ministers’ exhortations to slow their purchases, meaning fuel deliveries were barely able to keep up with demand.
“Consumer behavior, allied with a perception of a shortage of fuel, is driving different levels of demand,” Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse told Sky News. “If we can return to a normal pattern of consumption we can return to a normal pattern of supply.”
The scenes on the streets of London on Friday morning were far from normal. From Woodford New Road in the north of the city to Catford in the south, a significant number of service stations displayed signs saying they had no fuel.
Where supplies of gasoline and diesel were available, there was ample evidence of “unprecedented demand.”
From Kilburn in northwest London to the Old Kent Road, long lines of vehicles waited to fill their tanks, snarling traffic, blaring their horns and occasionally getting into arguments. Frustrated drivers spoke of many wasted hours searching for fuel and disruption to their lives and businesses.
At an Exxon Mobil Corp. station in north London, a motorist named Kevin said he had finally found fuel after having been on the hunt since Monday. Running on empty for most of the week, the Ecuadorian national who declined to give his last name said he and his colleagues had to cancel jobs in his business collecting discarded furniture.
In southeast London on Thursday, a van driver who asked not to be named said he’d visited 12 empty stations before finding a Royal Dutch Shell Plc forecourt that had fuel. He’d been waiting at least an hour for his turn to refill.
(Updates with government comment in fifth paragraph.)