United Kingdom

Petrol station stocks ‘at highest level since May’ after panic-buying frenzy

Stocks of unleaded and diesel at UK petrol stations are at their highest level since May – recovering from the recent panic buying frenzy, according to government data.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said forecourt storage tanks were an average of 45% full at the end of the day on Sunday.

That figure was up significantly on the 15% figure at the height of the fuel fright which took hold last month when it emerged that BP had told the government it was prioritising the restocking of its branded filling stations because of a shortage of tanker drivers.

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HGV delivering fuel is driven by military

London and the South East were the slowest regions to recover from the resulting disruption as many drivers ignored advice to buy normally and joined queues, over several weeks in some areas, to seek out stocks.

Army specialists were brought in to drive tankers to help restore fuel flows.

The latest BEIS figures also showed that sales of fuel had slowed from an average of 35,900 litres per filling station on 24 September to 11,800 litres on Sunday.

The figures were released 24 hours after motorists were warned that the cost of fuel is tipped to hit record levels by the end of the month.

The Petrol Retailers Association said on Wednesday that pump prices of 142 pence per litre (ppl) for petrol and 148p for diesel set in April 2012 were “almost certain to be eclipsed before the end of October”.

The organisation, which represents independent forecourts that make up almost two-thirds of UK filling stations, blamed surging oil prices globally for the shift.

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3 Oct: Drivers hope for fuel consistency

However, motoring organisations have declared that data shows there is also some additional profit being taken in the supply chain.

The fuel price situation is driving current inflationary pressure across the economy but economists warn energy price hikes will spur an even bigger leap in the cost of living from this month.

The shortage of workers, including HGV drivers, is a factor behind it but there is also a big global supply issue at the heart of the matter as the COVID recovery is threatened by demand simply outstripping supply.

Earlier on Thursday it emerged that food producer Unilever had hiked its products by more than 4% over the summer to help it meet “unprecedented” cost inflation.

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