Petrol stations BLOCKED as fuel shortage fears spark panic buying with 20 cars queuing from early hours

HUGE queues are blocking access to petrol stations across the country amid fuel shortage fears.

Panic-buyers have been lining up from the early hours to fill their tanks – despite the government insisting motorists “carry on as normal”.

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Huge queues at a petrol station in Billericay, EssexCredit: Paul Edwards
Motorists queuing for up to an hour at a Tesco petrol station in Sidcup, south east London

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Motorists queuing for up to an hour at a Tesco petrol station in Sidcup, south east LondonCredit: LNP
More than 30 vehicles lining up at the ASDA petrol station at Brighton Marina, East Sussex

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More than 30 vehicles lining up at the ASDA petrol station at Brighton Marina, East SussexCredit: Eddie Mitchell

On Thursday BP said it had closed a “handful” of its petrol forecourts due to a lock of available fuel.

A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites, said.

But hoards of drivers have been making late-night and early morning trips to stock up for fear the country’s fuel supply could completely run out due to a lack of HGV delivery drivers.

One man visited the ASDA forecourt in Eastleigh, Hampshire, at 11pm last night only to be met by 20 other cars waiting to get in.

Another motorist was one of many waiting for his local garage in Hunstanton, Norfolk, to open at 6am.

Elsewhere, customers at a BP petrol station in Billericay, Essex, faced major delays this morning, and more than 30 vehicles lined up at the ASDA station at Brighton Marina, East Sussex.

One woman in Surrey said she even witnessed an “old guy” squeeze £2.65 worth of fuel into his tank “before it overflowed onto the floor”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has tried to dissuade drivers from panic buying petrol, telling Sky News: “The advice would be to carry on as normal, and that is what BP is saying as well.”

But Brits have been ignoring him in their thousands, rushing straight to the pump.

A petrol station manager in Coventry said his store is already suffering from a loss of business because of a lack of fuel.

He told Good Morning Britain: “The big problem is driver shortages.

“We ran out of unleaded yesterday at 5.30 and already this morning we’ve seen panic-buying.

“We’ve had to switch of the diesel lane because people have gone crazy and there’s really no need. There’s plenty of fuel, just no drivers.”

🔵 Read our petrol crisis live blog for live updates on the crisis

Ministers are said to be drawing up emergency plans to bring soldiers in to drive tankers to forecourts suffering supply issues.

The Times has been told contingency plans, called Operation Escalin, would go into action if the situation significantly deteriorated.

‘VERY BAD’

The supply issues came as Hoyer, one of the UK’s largest fuel logistics companies, revealed it was “struggling to meet deliveries”.

It cannot find enough tanker drivers to make fuel deliveries, typically 20 short of the 400 to 450 needed a day.

The Road Haulage Association says the UK lacks 100,000 HGV drivers in total.

Hanna Hofer, BP’s head of UK retail, told a government meeting last week the situation was “bad, very bad”. 

The company said up to 100 of its forecourts were short of at least one grade of fuel. It has started rationing petrol deliveries.

Several have been forced to close entirely due to problems with supplies.

Petrol stations on motorways and major roads are being prioritised for fuel deliveries.

However, the AA today said that most of the UK’s forecourts are working as they should.

The advice would be to carry on as normal, and that is what BP is saying as well.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

President Edmund King said: “There is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems.

“Fridays and the weekend always tend to be busier on forecourts as drivers either combine filling up with shopping runs, prepare for weekend trips or refuel for the start of the new working week.

“Drivers should not fill up outside their normal routines because, even if the occasional petrol station is temporarily closed, others just down the road will be open.

“It is now clear that there have been occasional delays over recent weeks that have been managed with hardly anyone noticing. This was a manageable problem.”

The crisis comes on top of families facing soaring energy bills and empty shelves at supermarkets.

Vehicles queue for fuel at a Sainsbury's petrol station in Weymouth

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Vehicles queue for fuel at a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Weymouth
Queues for fuel at the Tesco petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire

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Queues for fuel at the Tesco petrol station in Ely, CambridgeshireCredit: Geoff Robinson
An aerial view of vehicles waiting to fill up at a petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire

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An aerial view of vehicles waiting to fill up at a petrol station in Ely, CambridgeshireCredit: Geoff Robinson
A store manger trying to take control of the situation in Sidcup, south east London

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A store manger trying to take control of the situation in Sidcup, south east London
Drivers queuing for petrol in Tonbridge, Kent

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Drivers queuing for petrol in Tonbridge, KentCredit: i-Images
Chaos as drivers queue for petrol in Tonbridge, Kent

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Chaos as drivers queue for petrol in Tonbridge, KentCredit: i-Images
Pumps out of action at a BP petrol station in London

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Pumps out of action at a BP petrol station in LondonCredit: Getty
Queues at a Sainsbury's petrol station in Colton, Leeds

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Queues at a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Colton, LeedsCredit: PA
Huge queues for petrol amid shortage fears

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Huge queues for petrol amid shortage fearsCredit: i-Images
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted motorists 'carry on as normal'

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted motorists ‘carry on as normal’Credit: Eddie Mitchell
Customers queue for petrol at a BP petrol station Billericay, Essex

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Customers queue for petrol at a BP petrol station Billericay, EssexCredit: Paul Edwards
Customers queue for fuel at a supermarket petrol station in Brighton this morning

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Customers queue for fuel at a supermarket petrol station in Brighton this morningCredit: Alamy
Fears of a fuel shortage due to a lack of delivery drivers has sparked panic buying

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Fears of a fuel shortage due to a lack of delivery drivers has sparked panic buyingCredit: Andrew Styczynski
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says motorists should ‘carry on as normal’

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