Petrol Panic Hits Chiswick

Fuel runs out as drivers rush to fill up their tanks


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The scene at one Chiswick petrol station Friday afternoon

Petrol panic buying has hit Chiswick as drivers hurried to fill their cars with fuel in advance of a possible tanker drivers' strike.

Some local garages posted signs that they had run out of unleaded or diesel, just as the Easter break began for schools and families were planning to travel for their holidays. Lengthy queues began forming yesterday (Thursday) following advice from government ministers for people to “top up” if they needed fuel.

The Murco petrol station near Acton Lane had run out of diesel and only some unleaded was available by Friday afternoon, while the Total garage on Goldhawk Road put a ‘No Diesel’ sign up.

There were also unconfirmed reports that the petrol station at Chiswick Roundabout had run dry while the Sainsbury petrol station near Richmond had long queues which started before 9 a.m. today.(Friday March 30th).One Chiswick resident in the queue said that she felt there was an obvious sense of panic.

“ I started at the end of what was a very long queue but it did move fairly quickly. There is a real sense of panic, it’s incredible."

She said she needed petrol because her parents were visiting from overseas and she had promised to take them to the West Country on holidays.

“ You can blame the government for this panic. People are driving in, seeing the queue and worried if they don’t join it, they won’t get any petrol if they leave it too late.”

It is not yet known whether deliveries will be made to local petrol stations over the weekend. Some reports suggested the Tesco petrol station at Osterley had run out of fuel on Thursday night but had a delivery this morning.

Halfords said there had been people buying petrol-cans but they still had a few left.

Ministers have rejected retailer claims their advice caused "panic buying".


No strike is fixed and conciliation service Acas says it hopes to set up talks by Monday, making action over Easter unlikely because of a seven-day notice period necessary before industrial action.

Some 90% of UK forecourts are supplied by the Unite union's 2,000 or so members, who are calling for minimum standards of working conditions and pay, hours, holidays and redundancy.

Unite's drivers deliver fuel to Shell and Esso garages and supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Ministers had called for motorists to keep their cars "topped up" but urged people not to queue. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said people "just need to do the sensible thing... get a full tank of petrol, not a half-tank."

But the independent retailers group RMI Petrol has accused ministers of “making a crisis out of a serious concern”. The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents around 5,500 garages, said: "This is exactly what we didn't want - people panic buying.

They advised people to continue with their normal buying habits. The AA said if drivers followed their normal patterns, there would be no fuel shortage whatever.

About 1,200 of the UK's 8,500 petrol stations are operated by supermarkets, with oil companies owning some 1,800.

Figures released by the BBC estimated that 31 million cars in the UK with a full tank, would equal 1.7 billion litres of petrol. With the daily consumption of UK cars at 123 million litres of fuel it would take 14 days before fuel ran out nationally.


March 30, 2012

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