Many British gas stations were still dry on Friday after a chaotic week that saw panic buying, fights at the pumps and drivers hoarding fuel in water bottles after an acute shortage of truck drivers strained supply chains to breaking point.
Shortages of workers in the wake of Brexit and the COVID pandemic have sown disarray through some sectors of the world’s fifth largest economy, disrupting deliveries of fuel and medicines and even raising fears of a mass cull of livestock.
British ministers have for days insisted the crisis is abating or even over, though retailers said more than 2,000 gas stations were dry and Reuters reporters across London and southern England said dozens of pumps were still closed.
Queues of often irate drivers snaked back from those gas stations that were still open in London.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents 65% of Britain’s 8,380 forecourts, said members reported on Thursday that 27% of pumps were dry, 21% had just one fuel type in stock and 52% had enough petrol and diesel.
“This is running out quicker than usual due to unprecedented demand,” said PRA Executive Director Gordon Balmer.
Britain’s fuel crisis is stabilising though demand is still high, Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said on Friday.
“The situation is stabilising across the country albeit there’s obviously still high demand for fuel,” Malthouse told Sky News. “Let’s hope that over the next few days that eases as tanks fill.”
After a shortage of truckers triggered panic buying at gas stations, farmers are now warning that a shortage of butchers and abattoir workers could force a mass cull of up to 150,000 pigs.
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said a cull of up to 150,000 pigs was “potentially a week, ten days away”.