【Japan Himalaya League】 Author: ZiChen (子辰) Translator: Ranting

Recently, BP and the British Petrol Retailers Association both said that 50 to 85 percent of the country’s independent petrol stations are already out of fuel supplies.

Panic buying intensified after oil companies said they were unable to transport fuel from refineries to gas stations because of a lack of drivers, Reuters reported.

The fuel scare led directly to several crises in the UK: a spike in international gas prices that forced energy companies out of business; an associated shortage of carbon dioxide that threatened meat production; and a shortage of truck drivers that severely affected retailers, leaving some shelves empty.

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps called for calm and said the fuel shortage was caused purely by panic buying and that the government would solve the transport problem as soon as possible, but people continued to rush to buy.

Anglo-Dutch Shell Oil said in a statement that demand at the company’s gas stations in the U.K. has been increasing, leading to shortages of fuel supplies in some grades.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (UK), said that apart from freeway stations and some supermarkets that oil companies have prioritized for supply, fuel reserves at 50 to 85 percent of independent stations are now depleted, even “500% above normal”, which is also rapidly depleting the reserves of gas stations.

(Picture Source: Internet.)

Madderson told the Financial Times that while the short-term problem was “panic buying”, the root cause was “the government’s continued procrastination on the number of land transport drivers”.

Earlier, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said the UK was facing a shortage of about 100,000 drivers because of a number of workers leaving the industry, Brexit and the suspension of driver training and testing for nearly a year due to the epidemic.

Faced with an increasingly serious situation, British cabinet ministers met urgently to discuss countermeasures. Under the UK government’s plan, 5,000 heavy goods vehicle drivers will be able to come to the UK on temporary visas, while another 5,500 visas will be issued to poultry workers “to avoid any potential pressure on the food industry”.

In addition, the government will train 4,000 people to become new truck drivers, will send letters to bring back nearly 1 million drivers with heavy-duty vehicle licenses to the industry, and will speed up the driver testing process.

The British Retail Consortium, for its part, believes that if truckers are not replenished over the next 10 days, there will be serious problems with stocking up this Christmas. “5,000 visas will do nothing to address the current driver shortage.” Opie, chairman of the association, said. Major supermarkets in the UK alone need at least 15,000 lorry drivers.

As a result of the Brexit process, the UK has withdrawn from the European single market and customs union since January 1 this year, making it difficult for truck drivers from other European countries to work in the UK, while the COVID-19 epidemic has prevented new drivers from qualifying for the job, leading to a serious gap in the industry in the UK, and also causing serious impacts on other industries related to logistics. European drivers may not want to return to work in the UK, says Marco DiGioa, secretary general of the European Road Transport Association. He said, “I expect that many drivers will not return to the UK, even if the UK government allows it.”

Post Script: This article only represents the view of the author.

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Posted by: Ranting