British motorists are dashing to the petrol pumps armed with storage containers as panic buying continued across the country.
High street retailer Halfords revealed it had recorded a 17-fold rise in the number of so-called “jerry cans” sold over the weekend compared with the same period a week earlier.
The containers, used by motorists to stockpile fuel, was the fourth most common search term on the retailer’s website.
It is legal to store up to 30 litres of petrol at home in suitable metal or plastic containers without informing local authorities, though the Health and Safety Executive urges people not to store fuel unless absolutely necessary.
Some people are apparently not taking heed of the warnings on volume and the suitability of containers.
Despite many petrol stations rationing fuel to ensure as many people as possible can fill up their vehicles, the Northern Echo reported a woman in Stockton, Teeside, filling six cans to a total of 160 litres – at a cost of more than £200.
One onlooker told the newspaper: “The woman behind her was just tutting and she obviously couldn’t believe it. I went past and we both said we couldn’t believe it – it just seemed like pure greed.”
MailOnline reported a driver at services on the M25 in Surrey was filmed filling empty water bottles with petrol. Meanwhile, a senior Telegraph journalist tweeted about an extraordinary – and unconfirmed – scene in Hertfordshire.
Meanwhile, the fuel industry has said demand for petrol should return to normal levels in “the coming days”.
In a joint statement, leading suppliers, including BP, Esso and Shell, said that with many cars now carrying more petrol than usual, pressure on filling stations should start to ease.
Earlier Boris Johnson drew back from implementing plans to send in troops to deliver fuel to the forecourts as Downing Street insisted there were “ample” supplies.
In their joint statement, the industry urged drivers to return to normal buying patterns.
“There is plenty of fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry we are working closely with the government to help ensure fuel is available to be delivered to stations across the country,” it said.