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What is causing the UK oil supply crisis? | Supply chain crisis


First it was Nando’s chicken, then McDonald’s milkshakes and Ikea mattresses. Today, gas stations have started to ration as the impact of the chronic shortage of truck drivers deepens. What are the causes of the oil supply crisis and what are the solutions – and is there reason to panic?

What is causing the forecourt crisis?

It is not the lack of gasoline but the lack of truck drivers that is hitting supply chains across the country. The shortage is compounded by the need for a separate qualification required to deliver hazardous substances.

The government is urging people not to panic. Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said people should “go on as usual”.

But with the echoes of last March’s lockdown storage, people are ignoring the government. Long queues began to form at some forecourt stations on Friday.

Are supply chain issues really that big?

Three of the UK’s largest oil states operators have warned of fuel shortages with BP, saying as many as 100 of its stations lacked at least one grade of fuel and several had been forced to close completely. However, this is only a fraction of its network of 1,200 spaces. Esso owner Exxon Mobile said a “small number” of its Tesco forecourts had been affected.

Where is it most felt?

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), said some sites were experiencing delays, particularly those in London and the south-east of England.

What is the industry doing?

BP said it was reducing deliveries to around 90% of its stations in an effort to distribute supplies evenly. The PRA urges people not to panic, but advises drivers to keep their tanks at least a quarter full in case they need to travel to another station to refuel.

How serious is the shortage of truck drivers?

The industry estimates that there is a gap of 100,000 truckers partly due to Covid and partly to Brexit. Around 25,000 EU heavy truck drivers left in 2020 and did not return, and there is a backlog of 40,000 waiting to take their heavy truck tests. The Road Haulage Association says the government is not taking the problem seriously enough. “The average age of a truck driver in the UK is 57, every day this problem only gets worse as more retirees retire,” said Rod McKenzie, Managing Director general policy and public affairs at the RHA.

What are the solutions ?

The freight and logistics industry has been begging the government for months to introduce a temporary immigration waiver for drivers not only in Europe but around the world to help alleviate the shortage.

Logistics UK, which represents cargo owners, points out that there are eight different short-term work visa programs for various industries ranging from agriculture to sports and religious employees.

But the government has rejected their calls, arguing that paying and training UK truck drivers is the solution. Industry statistics show that there has been a shortage in the sector for a decade as drivers move towards more attractive careers. Driving in the UK is considered even less attractive than on the mainland due to the lack of specialized facilities including toilets, showers and canteens.

Last October, Conservative MP Karl McCartney told the transport select committee a “proliferation of bottles that appear to be full of Irn-Bru but they are not” thrown by truckers into parking lots where they have been. forced to take their mandatory breaks. due to the rarity of truck stops.

How long could the truck driver shortage last?

Logistics UK said that even with efforts to step up heavy truck testing with test sites open on weekends, the shortfall could not be closed until spring next year, raising fears of a shortage of Christmas food, trees and turkey.

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