Four more days of chaos? BBC Newsnight estimate shows petrol rush to end by weekend

BBC’s editor Ben Chu has revealed that reports indicate petrol is leaving forecourts “several times” the normal rate, and if “assumed conservatively”, it is “twice the rate” at 260 million litres a day. This points to an improvement of the UK petrol situation by the weekend. Panic buying has sparked huge queues outside petrol stations across the country, with some pumps running dry in parts of Wales. 

Mr Chu told BBC Newsnight: “Report suggests petrol is leaving forecourts as several times the normal rate of 130 million litres a day. 

“Assumed conservatively, it’s twice that rate at 260 million litres a day.

“That implies the 2 billion liter capacity could be filled in around eight days.

“With the crisis having started four days ago, that’s why many believe vehicles around the country could conceivably be full by the weekend.”

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Brian Madderson from Petrol Retailers’ Association added: “Potentially we could reach a point of some equilibrium between supply and demand towards this weekend and we will be watching the figures very carefully as we go forward.

Mr Chu went on: “What happens when tanks are full well, some might try filling jerrycans from the pumps, but most wouldn’t.

“Fuel, unlike say toilet roll, is pretty hard to store safely. 

“Assume that the regular supply to forecourts carried on at the normal rate, people would then see petrol stations back in order with fuel available.

“They could then return to the normal patterns of fuel demand and the system could rebalance over the following weeks.”

He added: “So there could be a natural lifespan for this crisis provided that the supply of fuel to forecourts remain steady.

Panic buying has caused massive queues outside petrol stations across the UK.

It comes after a shortage of lorry drivers that led to some deliveries not being made to forecourts from refineries.


It is estimated that the UK needs about 100,000 HGV drivers.

The Petrol Retailers Association has warned that nearly 5,500 independent outlets are out of fuel. The UK has a total of more than 8,000 filling stations.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the move to place the Army on standby was a “sensible, precautionary step”.  

However, there are growing calls for key workers to get priority access to available fuel.

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