Fuel shortage fears grip UK: Long queues outside forecourts after petrol station closures

Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion block oil terminals

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Drivers in Oxford and Cambridge were met with empty petrol pumps, according to local reports, although these issues were said to have now eased. In Oxford, it is believed that recent climate protests blocking oil terminals in the UK led to shortages.

In Cambridge, one service station cashier said that the issue was due to a “dispute” at the depot.

The Government dismissed fears of a fuel shortage, stating that all petrol pumps remained “fully operational”.

Activists from Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion were demonstrating in Essex last week, including blocking access to oil terminals.

The climate demonstrators are calling on the Government to halt new oil and gas projects to keep to its net-zero targets, despite rising fuel costs.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Just Stop Oil activists reportedly entered the Navigator oil terminal in Thurrock – one of the country’s busiest terminals.

Activists were said to have climbed on top of tankers and pipes inside in order to disrupt supply.

On Friday, Essex Police recorded a group of protesters arriving in London Road, near Purfleet docks. They said that they had made over 300 arrests in connection with the protests.

Deputy Chief Constable Andy Prophet said policing the protests had put a “real strain” on Essex Police, adding: “Fuel transportation has continued and there is no need for any panic buying.”

Elsewhere, in Warwickshire, police said officers had arrested 88 people following a demonstration at an oil depot in Kingsbury.

Hertfordshire Police said it arrested 41 people in connection with protests at Buncefield Oil Terminal in Hemel Hempstead.

The Oxford Mail reported that on Friday and Saturday, “no fuel” signs appeared at local petrol stations.

One social media post on Friday evening suggested that all the petrol stations in Abingdon and Oxford had been closed.

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A worker at the BP garage in Witney said they did have petrol at the station, but that it was running low.

Sarah Beckett, who works at a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Kidlington, said on Sunday: “We are running out of diesel quite quickly. We had a delivery last night, but I do not know how long the fuel will last today.”

Meanwhile, in Cambridge, local press reports suggest drivers appeared in large numbers at forecourts on Friday in hopes that there would be fuel.

One garage had a “no fuel” sign as of 10am that morning, but by 3pm there had been a delivery and were queues of around 200 yards, according to the Cambridge Independent.

A cashier at a BP garage at Duxford service station said at the time: “We have 4,000 litres of diesel left, but the last 2,000 litres is sludge so, realistically, with 2,000 litres left, I expect it’ll run out in an hour or so.

“With petrol there are 16,000 litres left, but the problem with petrol is that lorries take 500 or 600 litres to fill up, so we’re probably only good until teatime.”

Asked what the reason for the hold-up was, he said: “There’s a dispute at the depot but that’s all I can say.”

Deliveries of fuel are believed to now be reaching petrol stations in Cambridge and Oxford.

A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “All fuel supply points are fully operational, and we are working closely with industry to ensure that supplies are maintained. The public should continue to purchase fuel as normal.”

Fears of a nationwide fuel shortage are high after a shortage of wholesale natural gas in the supply chain last year led to panic pumping and drove up fuel costs. Prices have been pushed higher by the war in Ukraine.

However, industry leaders have dispelled worries of another fuel shortage for the time being. In March, the British Retail Consortium told Express.co.uk that stocks “remain high”.

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