Stock Groups

Britain puts army on standby as panic buying leaves petrol pumps dry By Reuters


© Reuters. On September 26th, 2021, a BP petrol station runs out of fuel in London. REUTERS/Paul Childs

By Michael Holden, Ben Makori and James Davey

LONDON (Reuters) -British drivers expressed frustration on Tuesday as they hunted for hours or sat snarled in queues to fill their tanks after gas stations in major cities ran dry due to a trucker shortage that has prompted the government to put the army on standby.

Reuters journalists reported that drivers rushed back to the petrol stations in cities where they were still available, even though dozens were closing their forecourts with signs stating they did not have petrol or diesel.

A post-Brexit shortage of lorry drivers, exacerbated by a halt to truck-driving-licence testing during COVID lockdowns, has sown chaos through supply chains, raising the spectre of shortages and price rises in the run up to Christmas.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Business Secretary, said that a small number of military tanker driver had been placed on standby to provide fuel delivery.

Banner 3

David Scade (33-year-old delivery driver) said that he couldn’t believe what he saw. He drove hours looking for fuel in London.

Scade was filling up at the Shell (LON) station in London when he heard that there were no shortages.

It was chaotic at petrol stations in England as motorists jostled for fuel. Doctors suggested that health workers be allowed to fuel their vehicles first to ensure the continued operation of the public health system.

An air of chaos has gripped the world’s fifth largest economy in recent weeks as the shortage of truckers strained supply chains and a spike in European wholesale prices tipped energy companies into bankruptcy.

Truckers, retailers and logistic companies warned that energy prices will rise.


British ministers, British fuel companies, and stations claim there are enough fuel supplies. But panic buying coupled with the inability to find truckers have drained the system.

The situation is so serious that the British Medical Association called on health workers to be granted priority fuel access in order to keep the health system running.

According to the Petrol Retailers Association, (PRA), independent fuel retailers account for around 65% of the 8.380 UK forecourts.

Sunday’s announcement by the government included a proposal to grant temporary visas to 5 000 foreign truck drivers. However, some Polish hauliers claimed that the government’s offer to issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign truck drivers was ridiculous and unlikely that they would accept.

Retailers, hauliers and petrol stations agree that there is no immediate solution to the shortage of truck drivers (estimated at around 100,000). Furthermore, transporting fuel requires additional training and licensure.

British Retail Consortium (BRC), urged government to expand the scope and size of the program to draw in truckers to ensure Christmas supply.

Andrew Opie from the BRC’s food and sustainability department stated, “We urge the government, in order to avoid disappointment for millions, during the festive season, we urge you to quickly extend this program, both in terms of size and scope to HGV driver in all sectors the retail industry.”

Opie explained that the shortage of drivers in Britain will not be covered for many months.