Panic buying at the pump has now affected our neighbors across the pond as almost one third of gasoline stations in the United Kingdom ran dry this past weekend. The situation was bad enough that gas stations had to ration their supply by placing limits on how much drivers could pump.
This is the result of a shortage of truck drivers, rather than a shortage of fuel, as many folks in the UK feared. Government officials warned people not to panic buy ahead of the weekend, because there was plenty of fuel, but drivers lined up anyway. In some cases for hours, per the BBC:
The scenes have been described by one petrol station owner as “carnage”.
Queues have stretched for miles outside some petrol stations as people wait for hours to fill up their tanks. Some drivers have slept in their cars as they waited, while others have tried to jump the queue by following fuel tankers into station forecourts.
Just like in the U.S., fights eventually broke out amid the panic buying, the BBC reports, after drivers were turned away or told supply had run out after hours of waiting.
Government officials blame the media for the panic buying because, again, fuel supply in the country hasn’t run short. Major fuel suppliers in the UK shared the following statement with Reuters:
“There is plenty of fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry we are working closely with the government to help ensure fuel is available to be delivered to stations across the country,” said a joint statement from the fuel industry, which included the BP (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and ExxonMobil’s (XOM.N) Esso.
Reuters estimates that 100,000 truck drivers left the country, due not only to Brexit, but also due to COVID19.
The current UK administration announced it could issue 5,000 temporary visas to truck drivers from abroad. There’s speculation that the Army could be called in to help transport fuel, which is similar to the situation in some parts of the U.S., where the National Guard has stepped in to drive kids to school.