Thursday 23 September 2021 4:22 pm

First gas stations close as BP and Esso ration fuel

The first UK gas stations are closing as a chronic shortfall of qualified drivers causes petrol and diesel deliveries to dry up.

BP and Esso owner ExxonMobil have announced that deliveries of petrol and diesel to forecourts across the UK will be reduced to ensure supplies do not run out.

Suppliers say

In a statement ExxonMobil said that a “small number” of Esso operated gas stations are affected with around 200 Tesco Express sites facing shortages.

“We are working closely with all parties in our distribution network to optimise supplies and minimise any inconvenience to customers. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier today BP also said they would be rationing fuel. In a statement the company said, “we are experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK and unfortunately have therefore seen a handful of sites temporarily close due to a lack of both unleaded and diesel grades.”

“These have been caused by delays in the supply chain, which has been impacted by industry-wide driver shortages across the UK, and we are working hard to address this issue,” they added.

Chronic driver shortages

The news comes as the heavy goods vehicle sector struggles with recruitment due to a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit reducing the number of available drivers.

The exodus of some 500,000 EU workers creating chronic shortages amongst road transport drivers, where European nationals previously made up 11 per cent. Job openings for transport drivers up by 68 per cent in June compared to pre-pandemic levels according to an IFS study.

Situation critical

Last Thursday BP’s head of UK retail Hanna Hofer said it was important the Government understood the “urgency of the situation”, which she described as “bad, very bad”, according to ITV News.

Ms Hofer said BP had “two-thirds of normal forecourt stock levels required for smooth operations” and the level is “declining rapidly”.

Hofer warned fuel will be restocked less often “very soon,” while Motorways will be prioritised and restocked as normal.

Read more: BP to ration fuel amid driver shortages