Esso filling stations have been impacted by a lack of fuel deliveries ©  Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Esso filling stations have been impacted by a lack of fuel deliveries © Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Ministers hold emergency talks over petrol shortages

24 September 2021

UK government ministers are taking part in crisis talks to find solutions to petrol shortages that have sparked panic buying.

Ministers from the Cabinet Office, transport and environment departments are understood to be involved in the discussions, according to the BBC.

The situation is the latest consquence of the shortage of HGV drivers, which has hit supermarkets, the food sector and construction.

Estimates have put the shortage at between 70,000-100,000 drivers and industry groups have called for EU workers to be granted temporary visas to fill the shortfall.

The talks come after BP, Tesco and Esso warned they are facing petrol shortages because of a lack of deliveries.

Earlier transport secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News the government will “move heaven and earth” to tackle the driver shortage.

Shapps did not rule out allowing EU workers temporary visas, but said: “[We are] not ruling anything out at all. We want to see this problem resolved. But I also want to say it was all for the long term, not just a short term fix, which ends up exacerbating the long term as well.”

He warned motorists not to panic as he said he believes the issue will be “smoothed out relatively quickly”. 

Shapps made clear the issue is not a shortage of petrol, but a shortage of drivers to transport the fuel to stations.

He argued that Brexit has “provided part of the solution”, pointing to how the government has introduced changes to the HGV driver tests to speed up the process that would not have been allowed under the EU. 

“I'll look at everything,” he said. 

BP said it had only two-thirds of normal stock levels required for “normal operations” and it was prioritising stocking motorway service stations. 

The firm has been forced to close “a handful” of stations and up to 100 have been left short. 

A BP spokesperson said: “We are experiencing some fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK and unfortunately have therefore seen a handful of sites temporarily close due to a lack of both unleaded and diesel grades.  

“These have been caused by some delays in the supply chain which has been impacted by the industry-wide driver shortages across the UK and there are many actions being taken to address the issue. 

“We continue to work with our haulier supplier to minimise any future disruption and to ensure efficient and effective deliveries to serve our customers. We are prioritising deliveries to motorway service areas, major trunk roads and sites with largest demand and seeking to minimise the duration of stock outs.”  

Esso said various stations which operate alongside Tesco Express had been impacted and Tesco said some of its own petrol stations had seen shortages.

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