Fuel crisis hits online shoppers: Petrol is ‘diverted away from large retailers to garages and service stations’ – but experts warn against ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’
In a major blow for online shoppers, petrol is reportedly being diverted from large retailers to garages in a bid to combat the fuel crisis.
Tankers intended for business fleets have been ordered by Government officials to go to garages and service stations instead, industry sources have claimed.
The move has sparked warnings from experts against ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.
Experts have also warned the redistribution would only increase demand and ‘panic ahead of a busy Christmas season.’
HERTFORDSHIRE — A worker refuelling a tanker at Buncefield oil depot in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, today
According to The Daily Telegraph, bosses at fuel terminals across the country have been told to prioritise drivers over companies – though a Government spokesman denied the claims.
Experts at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, meanwhile, have warned a strategy to divert fuel from major retailers could backfire.
Head of External Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute, Morgan Schondelmeier, told MailOnline: ‘It’s ironic that the Government is panicking and redistributing fuel when they were saying just yesterday there was no shortage and no one should panic.
‘Intervention in complex supply chains and logistics will inevitably cause knock-on effects, potentially more damaging than a temporary scarcity of petrol at stations.
‘The shortage of fuel at filling stations already shows signs of improving as the market adjusts, panic eases, and deliveries continue.
‘Heavy-handed Government pressure on industry will only further increase consumer and business panic ahead of a busy Christmas season.’
Matthew Lesh from the same think tank told The Telegraph: ‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul won’t solve the fuel crisis.’
MailOnline has contacted ASOS, Next, John Lewis, Argos, Tesco and Amazon UK for comment.
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s told MailOnline: ‘All sites continue to receive fuel and we can reassure our customers there are no issues with our groceries online delivery service.’
This comes as the Government was today accused of ‘gaslighting’ Britain over the fuel crisis, as Ministers admitted more than a quarter of petrol stations still remain without supplies.
Treasury minister Simon Clarke told Sky News today that 60 per cent of petrol stations were out of fuel over the weekend, but that had dropped to 27 per cent yesterday and is ‘falling’
BRISTOL — Long queues for petrol at Asda Longwell Green in Bristol this morning as the fuel supply crisis continues
London and Bristol were among the worst hit areas today as UK roads were gridlocked for the seventh day in a row while motorists hunt for stations with fuel, carrying petrol cans, plastic jugs and water bottles to stock up.
Drivers told of their hunt for fuel overnight into this morning, with Portsmouth-based Joe Wells tweeting: ‘Being told there is petrol when I’ve been to five petrol stations and they’ve had none is literally gaslighting’.
And Kim Sunley from London tweeted: ‘Absolute bulls*** to say fuel crisis is over if my bus journey in NE London is anything to go by. One station closed, two gridlocked with queues. Government gaslighting.’
Government ministers began briefing on Monday that they believed the crisis would begin easing from today as drivers who needed petrol or diesel would then have been able to fill up.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson then gave a statement insisting the crisis was ‘stabilising’ and told drivers to ‘go about their business in the normal way and fill up in the normal way, when you really need it’.
LONDON — A sign showing the lack of fuel is displayed at the entrance of a petrol station in the capital this morning
Then on Sky News this morning, Treasury minister Simon Clarke said 60 per cent of petrol stations were out of fuel over the weekend, but that had dropped to 27 per cent yesterday and was still ‘falling’ today. One of the cities where the crisis did appear to be easing today was Liverpool, where very little queuing was seen at petrol stations.
Panic buying was sparked last week by concerns a lack of lorry drivers would prevent supplies reaching fuel pumps, and has brought long queues around the UK and pockets of aggression at petrol station forecourts.
Petrol stations face disruption for up to a month even if panic buying stops, industry figures say – and one motorist picked up on Mr Johnson’s claims that the crisis was ‘stabilising’, tweeting: ‘It’s stabilising. Into a lack of fuel’.
But Mr Clarke insisted today that the ‘numbers are really moving in the right direction’ and 150 drivers from the Army were on standby to help if needed. Today, an Army tanker was seen been driven along the M5 near Bristol.
Sainsbury’s told MailOnline today that it has more than 300 petrol stations, with some reopening after receiving more fuel but other closing until they receive more – however, it insisted that all sites continue to receive fuel.
It came as the Government advised local councils around the country not to use the phrases ‘panic’, ‘panic buying’ or ‘stock-piling’ in reference to the fuel crisis, in the hope it will reduce queues outside petrol stations.
The advice was in a presentation from the Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Science Team – known the ‘Nudge Unit’ – whose members believe they can use psychology to influence the public’s behaviour.
Drivers also claim that away from the queues, roads in central London are quieter because fewer cars are out because of a lack of fuel, meaning thousands of people are either unable to get to work or working from home.
Meanwhile the RAC has warned motorists that fuel prices could reach record levels even if the current crisis ends, reaching 143p per litre for petrol and 145p per litre for diesel in the next few weeks – up around 10p.