Stop panic buying fuel, AA chief tells motorists amid chaotic scenes at petrol stations

Edmund King insists ‘there is plenty of fuel at source’ and says drivers are exacerbating shortages by filling up unnecessarily

Stop panic buying fuel, AA chief tells motorists amid chaotic scenes at petrol stations

Fuel shortages at some petrol stations have been driven by panic buying, rather than supply-chain issues, according to the president of the AA.

There have been chaotic scenes at forecourts after BP announced on Thursday evening that it was closing some pumps and rationing petrol and diesel because of a lack of lorry drivers. On Friday, EG Group also said it was imposing a £30 limit at its 400 petrol stations.

However, Edmund King, the president of the AA, told BBC Breakfast that drivers were exacerbating the shortages by filling up unnecessarily, insisting that “there is plenty of fuel at source”.

“We were in discussions with government ministers last night and we talked to the major fuel companies, and we can reiterate there is not a problem with supply at the source,” he said. 

“Earlier in the week, there were some problems with the supply chain, as we know, due to a shortage of some lorry drivers, but that was only a localised problem.”

A petrol station in Hertford has put up signs stating they have ran out of fuel till next delivery
A petrol station in Hertford has put up signs stating they have ran out of fuel till next delivery CREDIT: Andrew Steven Graham/Alamy Live News
Motorists panic buying fuel on Saturday morning at a Tesco petrol station in Sidcup
Motorists panic buying fuel on Saturday morning at a Tesco petrol station in Sidcup

Mr King added: “If you think about it, 30million cars out there, if they’ve all got half a tank [and] if they all rush out to fill up the rest of the tank and the tank is about 60 litres, that will put a strain on the system.” Advertisementhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.481.0_en.html#goog_885490451

There has been a deluge of posts from motorists across the country sharing images of closed forecourts and, where pumps are open, long queues as drivers in the last 48 hours. 

‘Chaos at every petrol station’

“We are driving up to London and there is chaos at every petrol station, queues even back onto the motorway,” one Twitter user, Lorraine, wrote on Saturday morning. 

“Quite an ugly atmosphere at the Shell petrol station across the road,” added Alex Andreou. “Long queues, most pumps out, tooted horns and shouted words.”

In St Ives, Cambridgeshire, the manager of the Morrisons petrol station turned customers away after it ran out of fuel
In St Ives, Cambridgeshire, the manager of the Morrisons petrol station turned customers away after it ran out of fuel CREDIT: Geoff Robinson Photography
A man carrying jerry cans at a Tesco Petrol Station in Bracknell, Berkshire
A man carrying jerry cans at a Tesco Petrol Station in Bracknell, Berkshire

But Mr King suggested the chaos was unlikely to last, as the supply chain has not been disrupted by ongoing challenges such as industrial action. 

“The good news is you can only really fill up once – you’ve got to use the fuel, so this should be a short-term thing,” Mr King said. “It’s not like the fuel crises in the past when the supplier was hit by strikes, etc.”

But, he warned that the threat of shortages of lorry and HGV drivers is likely to continue.   

“The market is stretched, so I think that is a broader issue that is affecting the supply chain, not just the petrol and diesel, but retail as well,” My King said. 

The Government is expected to announce that visa requirements for lorry drivers will be relaxed to help ease the crisis.

Up to to 5,000 temporary visas for HGV drivers are expected to be granted under the plans, which Boris Johnson is expected to sign this weekend.

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