Monday, March 20, 2023
HomeNewsFuel Crisis Hits UK: Government Suspends Competition Law

Fuel Crisis Hits UK: Government Suspends Competition Law

Following recent panic purchasing, the government is suspending competition rules to allow oil companies to target gasoline delivery at gas stations.

Officials claimed the measure will make it simpler for businesses to exchange information and prioritize help to the most vulnerable areas of the country.

It comes after days of lengthy lines at the pump due to worries of a fuel supply disruption, which prompted panic purchasing.

However, a minister stated that the Army will not be used to drive tankers.

The government has considered calling in the Army, but Environment Secretary George Eustice claimed the driver shortage was “not a major concern.”

“The only reason we don’t have gas on forecourts is because people are purchasing petrol when they don’t need it,” he added, predicting that after worried individuals had filled their cars, things will “calm down.”

Two-thirds of the Petrol Retailers Association’s approximately 5,500 independent stores are out of fuel, with the rest “partly dry and running out shortly,” according to the group. There are about 8,000 filling stations in the United Kingdom.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng claimed the government has “long-standing” contingency preparations to ensure gasoline supply while announcing the move to exclude the oil industry from the Competition Act 1998.

Allowing firms to exchange information, he added, will allow them to work together more efficiently to minimize disturbance.

In March 2020, the government also eased competition laws to encourage supermarkets to collaborate in order to preserve food supply.

In recent months, a lack of lorry drivers has caused issues for a variety of sectors, from supermarkets to fast food chains.

Certain gasoline supply have been disrupted in recent days, causing panic purchasing and long lines at some gas stations.

Companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, and Greenergy issued an unified statement reiterating that supply constraints are due to “temporary surges in customer demand – not a countrywide lack of gasoline.”

The shortages, according to PRA chairman Brian Madderson, are due to “panic purchasing, straight and simple,” with oil firms prioritizing keeping highway service station pumps topped up.

Pumps were mostly dry in Britain’s cities, he added, adding that Northern Ireland was presently untouched.

On Monday, Mr Madderson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that filling stations were being refilled, but that there were insufficient deliveries to restore regular gasoline levels.

“At lunchtime yesterday, one of our members got a tanker, and by late afternoon, the entire tanker had vanished inside people’s automobiles,” he claimed.

In an effort to minimize disturbance in the run-up to Christmas, the government said on Saturday that it would grant 5,000 foreign fuel tanker and food lorry drivers, as well as 5,500 poultry workers, temporary permits that would last until Christmas Eve.

Other efforts include mailing almost one million letters to HGV drivers to persuade them to return to the business, as well as plans to train 4,000 individuals to drive HGVs.

The visa applications will be open in “days, perhaps a few of weeks,” according to Elizabeth de Jong, director of policy for Logistics UK.

She said the business had hoped for more visas to be available for longer periods of time, but the key now was to make them appealing to drivers, which she said would likely entail paying well.

According to Ms de Jong, the UK lost 72,000 drivers between the second quarter of 2019 and the same time in 2021, owing in part to individuals returning to the EU following Brexit.

At the same time, she claimed that the epidemic had interrupted HGV license testing, making it more difficult to replace lost drivers.

The DVLA said that over 54,000 license applications were awaiting processing, however some of those may be renewals, and drivers can continue to work while they are being processed.

The food and retail industries are also concerned about the scarcity of drivers and other personnel.

According to the British Retail Consortium, the number of visas available is “too tiny” to make a difference in the predicted Christmas chaos.



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