Fuel Deliveries To UK Petrol Stations Are Being Rationed

BP and Tesco say forecourts impacted as government insists there is “no shortage" of fuel.
Pumps, out of action, at a BP petrol station.
Pumps, out of action, at a BP petrol station.
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Energy giant BP is being forced to ration fuel deliveries to its petrol stations as the fall-out from the shortage of lorry drivers in the UK continues.

The oil firm said a “handful” of its filling stations are closed due to a lack of fuel available.

The Guardian reported that as many as 100 of BP’s network of 1,200 service stations have no supplies of certain lines of fuels, several have been temporarily closed, and the company is prioritising deliveries to important sites, such as motorway services.

Meanwhile, Esso owner ExxonMobil also said a “small number” of its Tesco Alliance petrol forecourts have been impacted.

Separately, Tesco is experiencing delivery disruption at a small number of its 500 filling stations, which are operated separately to the Esso sites.

It comes as BP reportedly told the government that the company’s ability to transport fuel from refineries to its network of forecourts was faltering.

BP’s head of UK retail Hanna Hofer said it was important the government understood the “urgency of the situation”, which she described as “bad, very bad”, according to a report by ITV News of a meeting last Thursday

She added that BP had “two-thirds of normal forecourt stock levels required for smooth operations” and the level is “declining rapidly”.

But the government is urging drivers to “buy fuel as normal” as there is “no shortage”.

A government spokeswoman said: “There is no shortage of fuel in the UK, and people should continue to buy fuel as normal.

“We recognise the challenges facing industry and have already taken action to increase the supply of HGV drivers, including streamlining the process for new drivers and increasing the number of driving tests.

“We continue to closely monitor labour supply and work with sector leaders to understand how we can best ease particular pinch points.”

The HGV sector has been struggling with recruitment in recent months with a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit reducing the number of available drivers.

With test centres shut and many HGV drivers from the EU returning home during the pandemic, it has created a shortage of qualified drivers.

The issue has already hit supermarkets, with shelves half full and grocers forced to increase salaries and introduce signing on bonuses to fill gaps.

It has spread to waste collection services, with some councils cancelling bin collections as drivers have taken more lucrative jobs elsewhere.

An ExxonMobil spokesman said: “A small number of our 200 Tesco Alliance retail sites are impacted.

“We are working closely with all parties in our distribution network to optimise supplies and minimise any inconvenience to customers.”

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We have good availability of fuel, with deliveries arriving at our petrol filling stations across the UK every day.”

Gordon Balmer, an executive director at the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent forecourts across the UK, said some sites are suffering from delays, particularly those in London and south-east England.

He recommended that motorists keep enough fuel in the tank to reach alternative filling stations in the “rare instance” that fuel is not available at the first one they visit.