BP petrol stations closed as lorry driver shortage hits UK

BP petrol stations closed as lorry driver shortage hits UK
BP‘s head of UK retail Hanna Hofer described the situation as ‘bad, very bad’ and could continue for weeks

BP has been forced to temporarily close some of its petrol stations across the UK due to a lack of fuel supplies caused by the ongoing HGV driver shortage crisis.

The oil giant will restrict deliveries of petrol and diesel to its forecourts to ensure supplies do not run out.

BP‘s head of UK retail Hanna Hofer described the situation as “bad, very bad” and warned the Government it was important they understood the “urgency of the situation”.

Ms Hofer said the company had “two-thirds of normal forecourt stock levels required for smooth operations” and told ITV News the level is “declining rapidly”.

Under emergency plans the company will provide 80% of its normal service levels to 90% of its petrol stations, meaning that a number of locations will not be restocked for one and a half days each week.

Motorways will be prioritised and restocked as normal. Ms Hofer added that the next few weeks will be “really difficult”, but that fuel stocks should stabilise and start to rebuild at some point in October.

The company does not employ drivers directly but outsources to independent haulier Hoyer. The HGV sector has been struggling with recruitment in recent months with a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit reducing the number of available drivers.

With test centres shut and many HGV drivers from the EU returning home during the pandemic, it has created a shortage of qualified drivers.

The issue has already hit supermarkets, with shelves half full and grocers forced to increase salaries and introduce signing on bonuses to fill gaps.

Calls from Morrisons and Ocado for the Government to add HGV drivers to its skills shortage jobs list, to allow EU workers to fill the shortfall, were investigated but not implemented following pressure from the Home Office. BP is said to have asked the Government for similar support temporarily.

However business minister Paul Scully told 天空新闻 today that an amnesty on foreign immigration rules to boost driver numbers would not be a “panacea”.

Asked whether the Government could back a temporary amnesty for foreign workers to fill HGV driver vacancies, Mr Scully said: “This is why I started off talking about this being in other countries because actually there is no guarantee, if you have a shortage in Poland, you’ve got a shortage in Germany and other countries around the EU, there is no guarantee that actually if you start opening up a route, that actually people will come back in.

“Clearly we will look at all options in terms of short-term issues. The longer and medium term is something the sector will work through but we will help them do that by making sure we can get more HGV drivers in the pipeline.”

It has approximately 45 drivers coming through in training but is experiencing high rates of attrition, 根据 ITV News.

BP said in a statement: “We are experiencing fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK and unfortunately have therefore seen a handful of sites temporarily close due to a lack of both unleaded and diesel grades.

“These have been caused by delays in the supply chain, which has been impacted by industry-wide driver shortages across the UK, and we are working hard to address this issue.

“We continue to work with our haulier supplier to minimise disruption and to ensure efficient and effective deliveries to serve our customers. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Gordon Balmer, an executive director at the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent forecourts across the UK, said some sites are suffering from delays, particularly those in London and south-east England.

He recommended that motorists keep enough fuel in the tank to reach alternative filling stations in the “rare instance” that fuel is not available at the first one they visit.

The Government has been approached for comment.