Fuel shortage: Will the government need to call in the Army?

Cars queue for fuel at a BP petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire. Picture date: Sunday September 26, 2021.

The government is desperate to solve this fuel shortage mess and, importantly, to avoid blame for it.Earlier, MP George Eustace compared the situation at filling stations to the rush on supermarket shelves in March last year, when there was panic-buying.

In some areas of the country, forecourts cannot replenish petrol pumps quickly enough to service the growing cues, ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills reports

The main difference, of course, is that last year, the shortage of lorry drivers wasn’t as dire as companies are telling government it is now.In fact, they have been telling government the shortage urgently needs addressing for several months.Ministers are in action mode: having resisted bringing in foreign drivers they are now preparing to roll out a temporary visa scheme for 5,000 workers - although how it will work, who will run it and how many drivers it will attract is unclear.

'The government is in action mode, having resisted bringing in drivers from abroad,' Joel Hill says

The government is putting Army personnel on standby to drive tankers if necessary.If what is called, “Operation Escalin” is triggered it would be the first time the Army has been brought in to help deliver petrol and diesel for 21 years.The hope is it won’t come to that.

Tonight, in a joint statement, the fuel industry said: “As many cars are now holding more fuel than usual, we expect that demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days, easing pressures on fuel station forecourts.”