BP to ration fuel deliveries to petrol stations as company hit by HGV driver shortages

23 September 2021, 14:13 | Updated: 23 September 2021, 18:31

BP has already had to close a "handful" of petrol stations
BP has already had to close a "handful" of petrol stations. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

BP is planning on rationing its fuel deliveries to petrol stations amid a shortage of lorry drivers and fuel stocks that are "declining rapidly", according to reports.

The company said already a "handful" of petrol stations have had to close due to a lack of fuel.

"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," said BP in a statement.

"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.

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"We continue to work with our haulier supplier to minimise disruption and to ensure efficient and effective deliveries to serve our customers.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

Esso has also reported problems with fuel supply, with a spokesperson confirming that a "small number" of the company's Tesco Alliance sites were affected.

"The majority of the 1,200 Esso branded sites in the UK are owned and operated by a number of independent retail companies – these companies are responsible for arranging supplies of Esso fuel to their sites," said the spokesperson.

"As regards our own operations, a small number of our 200 Tesco Alliance retail sites are impacted.

"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."

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Despite the disruption, customers are being urged not to panic buy, with a spokesperson for Boris Johnson saying: "There is no shortage of fuel in the UK and people should continue to buy fuel as normal."

The spokesperson said the Government "recognised the challenges" and is taking "steps to support" the industry, such as speeding up the process for getting HGV licences.

A spokesperson for trade body Logistics UK agreed, saying: "We urge people not to panic buy."

They said the industry was "resilient" and would "continue to serve the needs of the nation".

However, they also said the driver shortage was "a very serious issue" that requires "urgent Government and industry action to resolve".

Jim McMahon, Labour's shadow transport secretary, accused the Government of ignoring warnings of the "worsening crisis" for decades and opting for "sticking plaster solutions".

"If [the Government] fails to take action, the responsibility for every empty shelf, every vital medicine not delivered and every supplier not able to meet demand lies at the Conservatives' door," added Mr McMahon.

Supply chains across a number of industries have been hit with a shortage of staff, specifically lorry drivers, over recent weeks.

Tesco warned that panic buying in the run up to Christmas could be "far worse" than during the first lockdown if the shortage is not addressed.

The Road Haulage Association warned of a loss of around 100,000 HGV drivers, with Tesco just one of many companies reporting issues as a result.

On Thursday Small Business Minister Paul Scully told LBC that part of the problem was that hundreds of thousands of HGV licence-holders were not currently using them.

"In terms of HGV drivers and so moving our supplies around, we’re working across government at the moment to encourage more," said Mr Scully.

"There are hundreds of thousands of people across the country who have HGV licenses who are not currently using them, not currently working, how we can get them back into the sector."

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Mr Scully said the Government was "enhancing" support for businesses to allow them to hire more staff, with a particular focus on apprentices.

"We’re also making 50,000 new tests available per year by changing the system which will allow the backlog of testing to be sorted out, that raised during the pandemic," added Mr Scully.

The staff shortages have been branded the result of a "perfect storm" of Covid and Brexit related issues.