BURY ST EDMUNDS, SUFFOLK, UNITED KINGDOM – 2021/09/25: People filling their cars up at BP petrol station during the fuel crisis in Bury St Edmunds.

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LONDON — British drivers have been panic buying gasoline in recent days, leading to lengthy lines, gas station closures and concerns that doctors and teachers won’t be able to get to work. 

Government ministers have continuously insisted that there is no shortage of fuel in the U.K., but lines to get to gas pumps have been rife since the end of last week.

The surge in demand has led to the price of a liter of unleaded gas going up by a penny since Friday, according to motoring organization the RAC. Meanwhile, U.K. retailer Halfords said the sale of jerry cans — which many motorists use to store gasoline — increased by 1,656% over the weekend.

Oil giant BP and Exxon Mobil’s Esso confirmed Friday that they had temporarily closed a handful of their U.K. gas stations due to an industry-wide driver shortage which had impacted their supply chains. The problem become more widespread this week following days of consumers stockpiling gas. By Monday, some gas station operators had reported that 90% of their sites were dry, according to the U.K.’s Petrol Retailers Association.

On Tuesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News that the market was seeing “the first very tentative signs of stabilization in forecourt storage,” although he acknowledged this would not yet be reflected in the lengthy lines for gas.

Why are people panic buying?

According to the British government, the U.K. has a strong supply of gasoline. The country’s environment minister, George Eustice, told the BBC Monday that the only reason gas stations were running out of fuel was because of people who were buying gas when they didn’t need it. 

But it’s the logistical challenge of getting that supply to consumers that has created the problem. The U.K. has an estimated shortage of 100,000 truck drivers, meaning deliveries of gasoline and other goods are facing severe disruptions. The government has taken some steps to help stabilize the supply chain — including putting the army on standby to help deliver fuel — but unease over the situation is still present among consumers.

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/29/petrol-crisis-why-brits-are-panic-buying-gasoline.html

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