News : Fuel panic buying finally eases

Queues for petrol are easing after unions announced there would be no strike over Easter, motoring organisations say. The government earlier changed its advice to drivers saying it was no longer urgent to top up petrol tanks, following two days of panic buying.

There have been some reports to the BBC of continuing shortages at a few petrol stations. But retail figures suggest demand for petrol waned from Thursday to Friday. The AA described ‘a rapidly improving picture at fuel stations’. A spokesman said: ‘The advice for drivers is to resume your normal buying patterns and to adhere to regulations on how much fuel you can carry and store.’

The RAC motoring group also said it was ‘business as usual. People should buy fuel as and when they need it – there is no shortage and panic buying should be avoided,’ a spokeswoman said.

Demand for fuel appeared to be dropping – with unleaded petrol sales down from 172% above normal on Thursday to 57% above normal on Friday, according to independent retailers’ group RMI Petrol. Diesel sales were down from 77% above normal on Thursday to 29% above normal on Friday.

However, the BBC has had reports on Saturday of some queues and shortages at petrol stations in Leeds, Tonbridge in Kent, Egham in Surrey, Bromley in south-east London, Finchampstead in Berkshire and St Albans in Hertfordshire. There are also reports of stations increasing fuel prices and limiting sales. In Guildford, Surrey, one petrol station is refusing to sell motorists any more than £25 worth of fuel.

Motoring experts now warn of a two to three-day backlog as haulers attempt to refuel petrol stations. A BP spokesperson said there had been a reduction in demand on the forecourts but it still had a few sites which had completely run out of stock and were awaiting deliveries. Meanwhile, several Labour MP’s have called for Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to resign over comments he made advising storing petrol in jerrycans.

A York woman, who suffered severe burns while decanting petrol at home, remains critically ill in hospital.

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said although no industrial action by fuel tanker drivers was planned over Easter – as it focused on next week’s talks with distribution companies through the reconciliation service Acas – this did not mean the union had backed down.

Acas said unions and fuel bosses would not meet until after Monday but said it was ‘pleased’ that Unite was ready to start substantive talks as soon as possible. An Acas spokesperson said: “We are meeting all of the employers involved in the dispute on Monday to complete our exploratory talks with them. ‘We hope that more formal talks involving both Unite and the employers will start as soon as possible after Monday.’

[Source: BBC Online]

Keith Adams


  1. Keith, never mind industrial action over Easter weekend – what about Pride Of Longbridge weekend?!
    I hope talks don’t fail by Thursday after Easter resulting in industrial action Fri,Sat. I could manage there and back on a tank but it wouldn’t leave much slack.

    I’ve found filling up quite difficult this week. On Tuesday morning before work the queues were either too long or the stations out of regular unleaded. Success at the fifth station which had only just been refuelled. They had taken more fuel than usual but were empty again 24 hours later.

  2. What I’ve noticed is scores of old people and unemployed filling up cars (who else has 3 hours to spare sitting around waiting for a tanker to refuel).

    There should be a marshal at the station checking gauges, anyone with more than 1/2 tank to be refused entry. If that fails simply issue all working people with a priority card.

    Its morally reprehensible that the price has magically increased of late and I do hope that Mr Osborne now rethinks about the duty increase due in August.

    I LOL’d at the station in Guildford, max £25? Thats not even 18 litres now! Would a Range Rover Supercharged V8 even get to Oxford on 18 litres from Guildford?

  3. Total, total and utter lunacy. I’ve been going past queues at filling stations with the windows down, yelling ‘There’s no effing tanker strike you sheep!’. Why are the British public so sodding thick?? Incidentally, have you noticed that fuel’s crept up by another 3p a litre during this farce?

  4. They’re still queuing where I live, the imbeciles. Trouble is, by the time I need to fill my car at the end of the week all the petrol will have gone! I went to the local Morrisons garage to check the tyre pressures yesterday and got talking to the woman there (she had little to do, as they had no fuel to sell). She told me that they had sold a week’s worth of unleaded in ONE DAY! The traffic was queued up for half a mile. All the other garages had sold out too.

    You either see empty garages with “out of order” on the pumps, or garages with a tailback of cars leading to them. If this is the country’s reaction to the mere threat of a strike in a couple of week’s time, God help us if they actually strike. And if there is a nuclear war…well it doesn’t bear thinking about.

    It’s took attention away from the Budget though (which could have been a lot worse than it was in my opinion), hasn’t it? Conspiracy theorists rest your case!

  5. funny how everything fuel related is calming down just in time for the end of the bussines year. government ploy?
    also garages putting the price up during the panic buying is pure profitering, although illegal will not be investigated as the government also gains.
    looking further ahead, when unite decide to even suggest a strike in the future mass panic buying will commence yet again.
    sorry if it sounds like a conspiracy but thats the way i see it.
    i think the government knew full well what they were going to say and the effect it will have as a deflection tool to make us forget the budget and the previous weeks screw ups

  6. On the local TV news they even had a flustered garage owner basically saying “don’t be daft, I had a delivery this morning, there’s no strike but if you keep panic buying then we will run out!” Cue more panic buying…

  7. @Diddy – I think this government is too thick and inept to engage in Fuel conspiracies. This was just sheer incompetence and stupidity on the part of Cameron and Francis Maud.

  8. It’s bound to ease off once everybody’s tanks are full. It’s not as if the volume of fuel being used has suddenly increased, just that more of it is now being stored in car fuel tanks.

  9. Just think of the extra revenue that the government will have made and all just at the end of the business year all because the stupid British public/motorist will queue at the hint at the smallest possibility of something being in short supply, just look what happens when there is heavy snow forecast everybody goes out and empty’s the shops of milk and bread.
    Just plain crazy.

  10. I feel I must apologise and confess to just having a panic buy moment 😮

    I was quite happy simply to get off me fat arse and walk to work for a bit, but being on a late finish tonight I thought I’d have a gamble and try the 24 hour Tesco’s on the way home. Just two pumps open and yes unleaded available. I stuck £40 in, and the nice lady from the shop wandered over with the pump locks. “You’re lucky” she said. “We’re running so low now that we’re closing until a delivery comes in on Monday – we’re keeping a reserve for emergency services and that’s it.”

    Glad I swapped shifts from a 00:20 finish to a 23:45 finish now – phew! It is utter madness though – I put a tenner in every Friday when I do the “big shop” and thats enough – I suppose I’ll not have to refuel for at least a month now, which is nice (watch the strikes actually happen in about 4 weeks, then!)

    One filling station near me has a sign saying £10 max, not enough to drive home on!

  11. Yup. Old Georgie Osbourne is probably grinning to himself at how lucky the timing for this was to boost his tax take just as the financial year closes, so that he can knock a few more quid off the total at the bottom of the red column in his account book.
    Trebles all round!

  12. No 11. my thoughts exactley. The government has raked in a shed load of tax revenue just at the end of the financial year! Best bit about all of this madness is that most of the people who are queueing for fuel all probably have 1/2 a tank full and do about 50 miles per week to the shops and back!

  13. Time to get behind a credible opposition, as this government is the worst thing ever for the UK and it’s car industry.

  14. This week saw Britain at its worst: bloshie unions, idiot politicians (of all colours), an overactive media and a greedy, thick and selfish public. Shameful, utterly shameful.

    Now, it’s Christmas Day in 9 months’ time, I’m off to buy ten loaves of bread, just in case I run out.

  15. hhhhhmmmm I too started bulk buying Diesel… got 6 pairs of jeans, 4 tops, 3 shirts and 2 bottles of aftershave!

  16. Fairly straightforward politicking started this off. had unexpectedly bad publicity from the budget – nicking cash of pensioners and of course eaters of warmed food from Greggs so they had to “shift the story” somehow.

    So they did by trying to tie Labour with the unions by suggesting there was a strike coming very soon (which there wasn’t). Maude issued stupid advice about fuel storage and because he is a “big noise” at the top of government nobody felt able to say “Francis, that is a bit stupid” so it stood for days.

    To be fair Labour have also not managed to get out of this one with any respect either – the leader of the union involved is their treasurer.

  17. Ineptitude of the type we used to see in the seventies. Actually fuel shortages and high petrol prices remind me of this era as well. Also there was a power cut where I live for 4 hours. I think I might invest in a purple Morris Marina to remind me of the good old days.

  18. “Just think of the extra revenue that the government will have made”

    Well they haven’t though have they, people fill their tanks and top them up when they need more. So people have simply brimmed their tanks this week and wont fill up again until they’ve used it up. So if one only normally puts in half a tank a week, they’ll just take twice as long until they next fill up. ie. they probably wont fill up next week!

    What the government has made this week, they wont be making next week.

    Is profitering illegal? It is in the time of war or civil unrest, however as it’s far from a war and no strike has actually yet been called, then surely it’s up to a garage to charge what ever they like for it. After all motorway service stations have been doing the same thing since day one!

  19. I feel the government did more harm to society than what the unions did last week with this ‘own goal’ they scored.

  20. I just waited until Sunday afternoon to fill up, the normal place I go to when coming back from my Girlfriend’s was empty, but a supermarket filling station just off my route was as normal.

  21. People went crazy around my way,even now some stations are out of unleaded. I filled up ok at Sainsburys off the A2 at Pepperhill, but was extremly busy with queues to the pumps, mind you its £1.359 per Lt for unleaded. The goverment made very silly coments which caused all panic buying. Regards Mark

  22. well i for one think the government more detatched from reality even more,was francis maude on his own private mental health week?and what of the impotent unions?strike for a day here and a day there?and then treat it as a victory?pah,if they want the govt to listen,and why will they when we just put up with it?look at what france do-proper blockades never mind poncing about,and before anyone goes on,just imagine if we did stand shoulder to shoulder on this,the govt would listen then,and we would all get a fair deal.And this is society we have made,silly,stupid and ignorant media hype and the public that panic hardly a world war was it?

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