Panic still driving Britons to buy more petrol than needed

Fuel shortages: Signs of stabilisation says Grant Shapps

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On the first day of the crisis – September 24 – motorists ignored warnings, leading to an extraordinary rush on the pumps, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said. Sales then remained “substantially above” average until the middle of the following week when they “began to trend back to normal levels”, the department added. But the run on fuel meant stock levels at filling stations fell to 15 percent on September 25, before “gradually increasing” over the following week as “deliveries outpaced sales”.

By last Sunday stock levels had recovered somewhat at 25 percent, but there was “significant regional variation” ranging from a low of 16 percent in the South-east to 35 percent in Scotland.

Stock levels usually average 43 percent.

After the amount of fuel delivered to petrol stations was ramped up, the average amount of petrol at each filling station increased from around 16,000 litres a day before the crisis to a high of 22,700 litres on September 28.

But experts warned that despite Government rhetoric, the shortages were not yet at an end. Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association, said that on the Wednesday of this week some 13 percent of independent filling stations in London and the South-east still did not have fuel.

He added: “This is leaving some motorists continuing to feel insecure about fuel availability at their local neighbourhood filling stations.

“Independent forecourts report a complete lack of visibility as to when their next delivery might arrive.

“Some have been dry for four days and still waiting for a delivery.

“Much more attention on this issue affecting this region is urgently needed.” He claimed attempts by the Government to deal with the crisis – such as deploying the Armed Forces to help deliver fuel – have only had “limited success”.

The crisis began two weeks ago when a handful of petrol stations were closed as a result of a shortage of fuel tanker drivers – news of which prompted panic-buying across the country and saw pumps run dry.

The Government drafted in Army drivers and eased competition laws to help rivals coordinate supplies – and announced thousands of temporary visas to allow foreign lorry drivers to work in the UK.

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