Is the UK running out of petrol? What is happening and what Brexit has to do with it

The shadow of Brexit returns to the UK: motorists lining up to fill up, no petrol in the midst of the gas and electricity crisis? What is really going on.

The UK , already struggling with a crisis in the electricity market, has now entered a petrol panic .

Tense motorists are lining up outside petrol stations in South East England in search of scarce fuel .

However, the momentary gasoline crisis has its roots – again – in Brexit and risks affecting retail sales of entire sectors.

What’s going on in the UK?

In the UK it’s a hunt for petrol: what’s up?

Three of the major British oil operators have warned of the shortage of fuel : in reality there is no shortage of oil, but the possibility of getting the supply to its destination, or in petrol pumps.

The BP has stated that up to 100 of its stations were short of at least one type of fuel and many have been forced to close completely. However, this is a fraction of its strong network of 1,200 yards.

Esso owner Exxon Mobile added that a small number of its Tesco yards have been affected by this shortage.

That was enough to make motorists queue up frightened by a possible closure of petrol stations.

It is not the lack of gasoline, but the shortage of HGV drivers that is affecting supply chains across the country . 

The government is urging people not to panic. Transportation secretary Grant Shapps said people should continue to buy gas as normal, without panicking.

Brexit’s shadow over the UK crisis

The oil industry estimates there is a gap of 100,000 truckers, partly due to Covid and partly due to Brexit .

Around 25,000 EU heavy vehicle drivers left in 2020 and did not return due to different entry regulations. There is also a backlog of 40,000 waiting to take the tests of heavy vehicles, blocked in the middle of the pandemic.

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 gets worse as more and more people retire,” said Rod McKenzie, RHA’s chief executive of politics and public affairs.

The association has urged politicians to ease visa restrictions for short-term foreign workers to alleviate the shortage of drivers. But he got no answer.

The point is that the problem could easily spread to other industries. The UK , for this very reason, has already come to terms with the shortage of chickens in the Nando chains and McDonald’s milkshakes.

Logistics UK , which represents freight owners, said that even with efforts to step up testing for HGV driving – with test sites open on weekends – the deficit could not be eliminated until spring next year, leading to fears of food shortages, trees and Christmas turkeys.

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