For the past few days, you must have seen videos on social media of long queues of vehicles at petrol pumps in Britain or heard about people buying fuel in a panic very fast.
This is happening when the government and oil companies have said that there is no shortage of oil in the country. Yet why and how has such a situation arisen in the country?
- Why is this happening at petrol pumps?
A petrop pump owner has called it a ‘murder’ amid the crowd at petrol pumps.
Mile-long queues of vehicles have been formed at many petrol pumps for refueling, in which they have to wait for hours. Some drivers are waiting while sleeping in the car, while some are in a race to break the line and overtake.
Many petrol pumps are not able to meet the demand of oil and they have to shut down their pumps.
Colin Owens, director of Oil 4 Wells in Mystag, South Wales, says his garage typically sells 20,000 to 30,000 liters of fuel a day, but has sold 100,000 liters in the past 24 hours.
At the same time, in some places even worse conditions have been seen.
Professor Danny Altman of Imperial College London tweeted about seeing a fight after the petrol ran out.
He told that ‘A man standing behind me started hitting the guard. After this a scuffle started between 8-10 people and was beaten up with kicks, bribes.
- Has petrol run out in the UK?
Oil companies like Shell, ExxonMobil and Greenery have said that there is no shortage of petrol in the country. He said that the supply pressure of oil is being seen “temporarily due to increase in customer demand and not due to shortage of oil in the country”.
The ministers related to these matters in the government also have the same argument that the oil companies are giving.
“The most important thing is that people buy petrol the same way they usually buy it,” he said.
“It can be completely controlled because we haven’t seen much media coverage on the oil shortage and people’s reaction to it.”
However, it is now clear that the shortage of petrol has been found only while selling it at the pumps.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said on Monday that nearly two-thirds of its membership, or 5,500 independent pumps, do not have oil and the rest have “partially dried up and will soon run out of oil”.
In this the most affected are urban areas of Britain, while it has not made any difference in Northern Ireland.
PRA chairman Brian Maderson has described the people responsible for this as ‘panic buying’.
- Why is there so much rush to buy petrol?
The main reason for this is being attributed to the second shortage currently in the UK and that is the lack of truck drivers.
It is estimated that there is a shortage of over 1 lakh truck drivers in the UK and this has caused many industries to suffer in recent months. These include from supermarkets to fast food chains.
The panic buying of oil also started after BP Oil Company’s statement that it may have to ‘temporarily’ shut down many of its petrol pumps due to paucity of truck drivers. Many other oil companies have also faced similar problems.
So why is there a sudden shortage of truck drivers in the UK now?
There is evidence that there is a severe shortage of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers across Europe, but the UK has been the most affected by this problem.
After Brexit, drivers in many European countries chose to return to their home countries or work elsewhere because of the extra bureaucracy at the border, affecting their incomes.
At the same time, due to the Kovid-19 epidemic, many drivers have returned to their homes and only a few of them have been able to come back.
Elderly drivers, on the other hand, have retired and have not been replaced by new ones and a large number of HGV driver tests have not been conducted due to the pandemic.
- What is the UK government doing about this crisis?
The government on Monday announced that the army has been kept on standby to help ease pressure on petrol pumps.
Army tanker drivers will be trained so that they can be deployed and when needed, they can transport oil to the place of need.
Along with this, ministers have said that the life of certain HGV licenses has been extended and the competition law between oil companies has been temporarily suspended.
Trade Minister Kwasi Quarteng has said that through this it will be easy for companies to share information about oil supply and this will allow oil to be delivered to the important parts on priority basis.
In view of the shortage of drivers, the government has announced that it will issue temporary visas for 5,000 foreign oil tanker and food truck drivers, as well as visas till Christmas for 5,500 poultry workers.
Along with this, he has written about 10 lakh letters to HGV license holders asking them to return to the industry. Along with this, he plans to train 4,000 people in HGV driving.