Fuel dealers blame ‘unsuitable’ delivery for London shortage

Fuel dealers claim “inept prioritization” of supplies is to blame for continued shortages in London and the South East.

Brian Madderson, president of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), said only 71% of petrol stations in the region have both petrol and diesel compared to 90% in the rest of the UK.

He warned that fuel supplies were being sent to “the wrong parts of the country”.

The government insisted that “the situation is improving”.

News Shopper: A 'no fuel' sign in the forecourt of a Shell gas station (PA)A ‘no fuel’ sign in the forecourt of a Shell service station (PA)

Madderson claimed that independent retailers were denied access to information from discussions between the government, hauliers and oil companies.

“We do not know when deliveries will arrive and we do not know how they will be prioritized,” he said.

“The return to normal fuel volumes continues to be destroyed by the current inept priority policy.”

Madderson described the government’s decision to suspend competition law to allow the fuel industry to share information as “a failed experiment”.

He added: “It is now time for the government to step down, reintroduce competition law and restore market disciplines so that ordinary business incentives drive the fuel to the service stations that need it.”

Figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show that petrol stations in the South East – including London – were 16% full at the end of the day on Sunday against 25% across the UK.

Average inventory levels in the UK fell to 15% on Saturday 25 September, the day after panic buying began.

Storage tanks were typically about 33% full before the crisis began.

On Friday, September 24, fuel sales increased by 80% compared to normal levels.

Sales remained “significantly above” the average until the middle of the following week, when they “began to return to normal levels”, BEIS added.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said the shortage has been “strongly felt by smaller retailers who do not tend to buy fuel as often”.

He added: “After the recent rush on the pumps, the vast majority of retailers needed to rebuild their stocks at the same time, which put enormous strain on the supply chains.”

A government spokesman said: “We have taken immediate action to increase the supply of HGV drivers and ease the pressure on petrol stations. The situation improves with more stations getting more fuel.

“Thanks to the interventions we have made – from temporarily exempting the industry from competition law, to the deployment of military tankers – the industry is directing fuel to where it is most needed, as quickly as possible.

“It is important to stress that there is no national shortage of fuel in the UK and people should continue to buy fuel as usual.”

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