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Petrol shortages: No10 says ‘hard to put specific date’ on return to normal as army delivers fuel

Follow events as they happened

Zoe Tidman
Monday 04 October 2021 16:04
Military tankers begin delivering fuel in bid to ease crisis

No 10 said it is “hard to put a specific date” on when fuel supplies would return to normal - but insisted the situation was improving.

“We’ve seen demand return back towards normal levels,” the prime minister’s official spokesperson said on Monday.

It came as army tanker drivers started delivering fuel to petrol stations in a bid to ease shortages as Operation Escalin got underway.

The troops were set to be concentrated in London and the Southeast, where the worst fuel shortages remained.

Petrol stations have run dry and long queues have formed at forecourts as the UK grappled with the fuel crisis caused by a shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and panic buying.


‘There is a shortage of lorry drivers actually around the world’ - PM

And staying on this topic, Boris Johnson spoke about supply chain issues at a Network Rail site in Manchester this morning.

“That’s really a function of the world economy, particularly the UK economy, coming back to life after Covid, sucking in gas in particular - there is a massive demand for that in Asia,” he said.

“There is a shortage of lorry drivers actually around the world, from Poland to the US, and even in China they are short of lorry drivers.”


Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 11:51

Queues remain at petrol stations

As the army tanker deliveries got underway this morning, long queues remained at some petrol stations.

Here are images from petrol stations in Kent and Hertfordshire, where cars line up down roads as drivers wait to fill up:

Motorists queue for fuel at an Esso petrol station in Ashford, Kent

People queue for fuel at a petrol station in Hemel Hempstead

Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 12:09

Government spokesperson on Operation Escalin

As Operation Escalin got underway this morning, a government spokesperson said there were “signs of improvement in average forecourt stocks” across the UK.

“Stocks in London and the South of England have been recovering at slightly slower rates than other parts of the UK, so we have begun deploying military personnel to boost supply in these areas,” they said.

“More than half of those who have completed training to make fuel deliveries are being deployed to terminals serving London and the South East of England, demonstrating that the sector is allocating drivers to areas most affected in this first phase from Monday.”

Additional reporting by PA

Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 12:34

What is Operation Escalin?

Army tanker drivers are taking to the roads for the first time to deliver supplies to beleaguered petrol stations hit by the fuel crisis in a move dubbed Operation Escalin.

Around 200 military personnel - half of them drivers - are being deployed, despite ministers insisting the situation at the pumps is easing.

The troops - who have been on standby since the start of last week - will initially be concentrated in London and the South East, where the worst shortages remain.

They include members of 3rd Logistic Support Regiment who have been training with the petroleum industry logistics company Hoyers in Thurrock in Essex.

Read more about the operation here:

Military tankers begin delivering fuel in bid to ease supply crisis

About 200 military personnel have hit the road under Operation Escalin to deliver fuel to forecourts across the country


Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 12:51

‘Continual improving picture’ over weekend

Speaking about fuel shortages, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said there had been a “continual improving picture with fuel stocks increasing and more fuel being delivered than is being used” over the weekend.

“That’s been a sustained picture for a number of days now, and as we’ve seen demand return back towards normal levels,” they said.

“Fully appreciate there are still some challenges, particularly in and around London and the south east, and how frustrating that must be, and that’s why we’re doing everything possible including using Armed Forces personnel to bolster getting in more supply.”

Additional reporting by PA

Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 13:05

‘Hard to put specific date’ on when supplies will return to normal - No 10

On when fuel supplies would return to normal, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “It’s hard to put a specific date on that, as it’s largely driven by demand.

“We have seen demand return to ... starting to return to normal levels, obviously it varies over the country.”

They added: “We continue to want to reassure the public that we have significant stocks of fuel around the country.”

Additional reporting by PA

Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 13:20

Sunak comment sparks jokes about petrol shortages

People have joked about the petrol shortages after Rishi Sunak said he wants to make the UK “the most exciting place on the planet”.

See the reaction to this tweet here:

Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 13:51

Closed stations and queues

Images have showed closed petrol stations and long queues, amid assurances from government the situation across the country is improving.

Here are a few:

A closed down petrol pump in London

People queue for fuel at a petrol station in Hemel Hempstead

Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 14:13

What is to blame for fuel crisis?

Fuel shortages have gripped the UK over the past couple of weeks. But what is behind the crisis?

Joe Sommerlad takes a look:

What is causing the UK fuel shortages?

Even Grant Shapps concedes Brexit ‘a factor’ in chaos but is it solely to blame?

Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 14:45

Brexit minister says ‘British Renaissance has begun’ amid fuel shortages

The UK’s Brexit minister has said the “British Renaissance has begun” at the Tory party conference, as the nation grapples with petrol and food shortages.

Sam Blewett has more on Lord Frost’s speech:

‘British Renaissance has begun,’ declares minister amid petrol and food shortages

‘Long bad dream’ of EU membership over, Lord Frost to say as country faces prospect of empty shelves in run-up to Christmas

Zoe Tidman4 October 2021 15:06

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