The British government on Thursday night urged citizens not to panic over the closure of dozens of gas stations across the country, which was due to the significant shortage of drivers of tankers, trucks and other heavy goods vehicles.
First, BP, the British energy giant, announced that it was obliged to limit deliveries of both unleaded petrol and diesel to dozens of its 1,200 service stations.
There is no shortage of fuel in the UK and people should continue to buy fuel as usual. -Downing Street
The reason is that BP's oil distribution company, Hoyer, can not find guides for deliveries.
It was later announced that some Tesco and Esso service stations are also short of fuel.
According to ITV, BP head of retail Hannah Hofer warned the government at a meeting last week that the situation was "bad, very bad". He allegedly said that the company's gas stations have 2/3 of the fuel stock required to operate smoothly.
Amid fears that drivers would rush to gas stations to fill up with petrol, which would exacerbate the problem, a Downing Street spokesman said: "There is no shortage of fuel in the UK and people should continue to buy fuel as usual".
Logistics UK, which represents the drivers of heavy vehicles, described the lack of drivers as "a very serious issue" that requires urgent action by the government and industry. He noted, however, that there was no reason to panic and that the country would continue to be served as it was in the midst of a pandemic and Brexit.
Transport Minister Grand Saps said he would move "earth and sky" to solve the problem, leaving open for the first time the possibility of adopting an emergency work visa for drivers from abroad, a constant request of companies that attribute a significant percentage of the problem to Brexit.
According to the Times, the government has discussed the possibility of deploying troops to drive tankers to transport fuel. This is Operation Escalin, which was to be launched in the event of a Brexit without an agreement with the EU. However, according to government sources, the plan will only be implemented if the situation deteriorates dramatically.
Gas station shortages add to the crisis facing energy companies due to rising gas costs, with at least seven smaller power companies in Britain closing this month.
The cost of the gas also led to a shortage of industrially produced carbon dioxide used in food processing and packaging, resulting in warnings of food shortages ahead of Christmas.
Already, however, at least 90,000 vacancies for truck drivers have caused shortages on the shelves due to delayed or canceled deliveries, which in turn is contributing to price increases, which, according to the head of Tesco, could reach 5% for some foods. .
Consumers in Britain are also affected by rising energy bills, and many poorer families receiving the single Universal Credit allowance will lose 20 20m-a-week emergency aid from next month due to a pandemic.
The Bank of England forecasts that inflation will peak at over 4% in the last quarter of the year.
Many newspapers are talking about a possible new "winter of discontent", like the one Britain experienced in 1978-79, with mass strikes that led to product shortages and eventually the fall of the Callahan government.
In the climate of dissatisfaction, the commentators add the 1.25% increase decided by the British Government in the National Insurance contributions from next April.