Some UK petrol stations close amid HGV driver crisis
A number of UK petrol stations run by BP and ExxonMobil-owned Esso were forced to close to customers on Thursday amid an HGV driver shortage that has caused havoc with supply chains.
BP said in a statement it had seen “a handful of sites close due to a lack of both unleaded and diesel grades”, blaming the shortage on “delays in the supply chain which has been impacted by the industry-wide driver shortages across the UK”.
A spokesman for ExxonMobil said responsibility for supplies at most Esso branded sites fell to independent operators, explaining its own closures had impacted a “small number” of its stations at 200 at Tesco supermarket sites.
“We are working closely with all parties in our distribution network to optimise supplies and minimise any inconvenience to customers,” he added.
While it has looked to assuage fears, the effect on the petrol pumps will heap pressure on the government which is already grappling with food supply shortages because of supply chain problems sparked by Covid and exacerbated by Brexit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office urged people not to rush to petrol forecourts despite the closures.
“There is no shortage of fuel in the UK and people should continue to buy fuel as normal,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
“We obviously recognise the challenges faced by the industry and are taking steps to support them,” he added, explaining measures had already been announced to streamline HGV licence applications and provide more tests for drivers.
On Wednesday the government announced a deal to restart carbon dioxide production at two major sites as shortages of the gas threaten to put further pressure on food supples amid soaring gas prices.
“We acknowledge there are issues facing many industries across the UK, and not just in terms of HGV drivers,” the prime minister’s spokesman said, adding that the supply chain remained “resilient”.