Fuel panic buying shows early signs of appeasement

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The panic-buying “frenzy” by motorists during the UK fuel crisis that has emptied the majority of the country’s 8,000 gas stations is showing early signs of dissipating, government and government figures said Tuesday. industry.

Brian Madderson, president of the Petrol Retailers Association, a trade body, said while the situation was still very difficult, with garages running dry hours after securing new supplies, its members saw signs of easing.

“The panic buying continues, it certainly hasn’t gone away, but it’s at a slightly less frenetic pace,” Madderson told the Financial Times.

The PRA, which represents around two-thirds of UK service stations, said 37% of its members’ forecourts ran out of fuel on Tuesday morning. That compares to about 50 to 85 percent drought on Sunday.

“We hope that some sort of balance between supply and demand could be achieved by the weekend,” Madderson said.

The government is under increasing pressure to bring the crisis under control, which began with a limited disruption of fuel deliveries to service stations due to a shortage of truck drivers, followed by panic shopping by motorists who ran out of fuel. supplies on weekends.

Ministers have repeatedly said there is no shortage of fuel at refineries or storage depots, but put the military on hold to help with deliveries to garages if needed.

The government has also eased visa requirements for foreign heavy truck drivers and suspended aspects of competition law to allow fuel suppliers to cooperate and share data.

Grant Shapps, secretary of transportation, said the government was seeing “very tentative signs of stabilization” after days of motorists queuing at gas stations.

“A lot of gasoline is now being transferred to people’s cars and there are now the first very timid signs of stabilization in the forecourt storage which will not be reflected in the queues yet, but this is the first time. that we are seeing more gasoline in the gas stations themselves, ”he added.

“I think… The sooner we can all get back to our normal buying habits, the sooner things get back to normal.”

The PRA said this week that between 50 and 90 percent of its members have been affected.

Dan Myers, managing director of XPO Logistics for the UK and Ireland, one of the country’s three largest bulk liquids distributors, said demand for fuel was still up 50% on Monday compared to normal circumstances, but down from a 400% jump. during the weekend.

He added that the number of dry gas stations out of the hundreds it supplies had halved in the past 24 hours.

“It’s going to take a little while for stocks to get back to normal,” Myers said.

Some fear that fuel shortages continue to significantly disrupt utilities and industry.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents healthcare organizations across the country, said fuel shortages “have the potential to affect the delivery of vital services to some of our most vulnerable people. society “as medical workers and caregivers struggle to find fuel for their cars.

The British Medical Association and unions have called on the government to give key workers priority access to gas stations.

Sectors, including couriers and taxi drivers, have expressed concern over whether they will be able to refuel once their vehicles run out of fuel.

Industry executives have warned that data on the extent of the problem is patchy at best, with no centralized system to monitor the amount of fuel on garage forecourts.

“We are chasing a bit because the stations can be full but are emptied again in a matter of hours, so the data we have may soon be out of date,” said an executive.

Additional reporting by Daniel Thomas in London


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