Unleaded sales up 172% in a day as stations jack up petrol prices to cash in on panic
07:57 GMT, 30 March 2012
Petrol sales, and prices, have continued to soar as panic grips the nation's forecourts with sales of unleaded petrol up 172 per cent yesterday and some stations adding 3p or 4p to a price of a litre of fuel.
After rising by 81 per
cent on Wednesday, the Retail Motor Industry Federation reported sales soaring again yesterday as motorists besieged garages and lengthy queues formed around the country. Unleaded sales rose 172 per cent , while diesel sales were 77 per cent higher.
Sales of petrol cans soared 500 per cent as people stocked up on fuel, prompted by ministers to fill their tanks to beat a strike that has not even been called, and the Treasury enjoyed a
33million tax windfall from extra fuel sales.
Prices soared and more than 100 forecourts ran dry as panic buying, police closures and profiteering brought chaos to filling stations yesterday.
Others were shut on the orders of police worried about ‘fuel rage’. The AA blamed the shambles on the Government, saying the ‘unnecessary and self-inflicted’ shortages were due to poor advice.
Chaos: Prompted by ministers to fill their tanks, motorists besieged garages and lengthy queues formed around the country yesterday. Community Support Officers manage the traffic queuing outside a Total service station in Christchurch, Dorset
It urged motorists to ignore
suggestions to fill up their tanks. The Petrol Retailers Association
said ministers had been ‘irresponsible’ and were at fault for the panic
Retailers warned last night that large parts of the country could run out of fuel by the end of today if the panic continued.
Some garages had pushed prices well
above even the record averages set yesterday of 140.9p per litre for
unleaded and 147.1p for diesel.
In places as far apart as Gateshead
in the North East and Chorleywood in Hertfordshire, motorists were
having to pay an extra 3p to 4p overnight.
Number Ten and the Cabinet Office
stand accused of issuing conflicting and shifting guidance. They were
acting on advice from officials that, typically, motorists drive around
with tanks just a third full, meaning industrial action could trigger
gridlock within two days. /03/29/article-2121984-12637BD3000005DC-156_634x394.jpg” width=”634″ height=”394″ alt=”Hazard: Queues like this one on a main road in Christchurch, Dorset, led to police ordering the closure of the county's garages for safety reasons” class=”blkBorder” />
Hazard: Queues like this one on a main road in Christchurch, Dorset, led to police ordering the closure of the county's garages for safety reasons
Run dry: Even though a strike date hasn't been announced, the threat of one has been enough to drastically deplete stocks, such as is the case with this station in North Shields
But even some Cabinet members were
privately questioning the official line, fearing the Government will
look ridiculous if the strike by tanker drivers over working conditions
is called off.
The suggestion from Cabinet Office
minister Francis Maude that motorists fill jerry cans with petrol and
store them in the garage has already had to be withdrawn following
safety warnings. But Energy Secretary Ed Davey insisted: ‘People just
need to do the sensible thing if they’re going into the petrol station.
They should get a full tank of petrol, not a half-tank … and they
should top up where necessary.’
He said he realised that some people might struggle to pay for a full tank but should fill up nevertheless.
Motorists reacted furiously with
Glasgow taxi driver John MacLean, 66, saying: ‘Someone should plaster
the Prime Minister’s mouth shut and Francis Maude is even worse, telling
people to store fuel. I think we will run out by the end of the week
and if I don’t get any fuel I’m out of business.’
Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday accused the Government of ‘playing politics with petrol’.
Opposition MPs noted the first
warnings on the need to fill up came as the Conservatives were reeling
from revelations that their treasurer had boasted he could secure dinner
invitations to the Prime Minister’s homes in return for six-figure
A motorist fills up a jerry can as a long queue backs up behind him at a
Texaco garage in west Sussex, 2.8miles from the house of Cabinet
minister Francis Maude, who sparked confusion by suggesting
drivers should store fuel at home
Some Tories appear to have realised
the looming tanker strike, being threatened by Unite, represented a
chance to shift the focus onto Labour’s finances.
The union is easily Labour’s biggest
financial backer, having donated 5million to the party since Mr
Miliband – who it helped install as leader – took over.
Unite and the haulage companies were
last night heading toward the prospect of peace talks next week. The
threat to the Easter holiday has receded because the union must give
seven days of notice of industrial action.
Dorset police announced they had been
forced to ask a small number of petrol stations to close temporarily
because of traffic disruption on adjoining roads.
‘The actions of some motorists in
queuing irresponsibly at petrol stations is causing danger to other road
users,’ said Chief Inspector Nick Maton. ‘There is no disruption to the
fuel supply in the UK and members of the public should not panic buy.’
In Wilmslow, in Cheshire, there were
dramatic price differences at the town’s four big petrol stations –
meaning some saw long queues and others were empty.
No extra here: Huge queues wait for petrol at a Tesco filling station in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
Resident Fiona Barrett, 56, said:
‘We’ve got everything from garages that can’t handle demand to those
charging a crazy price. The town is well served by petrol stations and
normally the prices are competitively close.’
It is understood that areas most
under threat of shortages are in the North and Midlands, and parts of
the South, supplied by ConocoPhilips and Texaco.
Transport minister Mike Penning said
Francis Maude had made a mistake by advising drivers to fill up jerry
cans, not knowing they were too big for storage.
Petrol Retailers Association
spokesman Keely Scanlan said: ‘The Government was entirely responsible
for the chaos on Wednesday. They were irresponsible and shouldn’t have
made any announcement as people started panic buying.
‘They don’t know if there’s going to
be a strike and stations are still getting petrol delivered, so if
people just leave it alone and carry on as normal then it will be fine.
‘The Government haven’t even been in touch with us at all.’
- Government warning on fuel shortages sparks panic buying at petrol stations
- Fuel strike: Petrol sales soar 45 per cent and price hits 140.7p
- Fuel shortage fear as tanker drivers who deliver to 90% of petrol stations are balloted for strike action
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- Petrol price could hit 1.40 a litre by the end of this summer, experts warn