politics

Army on standby to deliver fuel after BP shuts forecourts due to HGV driver crisis


Contingency plans would kick in if the situation gets much worse, as several petrol station operators have had to close a small number of stores due to lack of fuel

British Army soldiers delivering Covid-19 tests to a lorry drivers on the M20 in Kent
Supermarkets say the situation is bearable, but army drivers are the next step

Army drivers could be brought in to help deliver fuel as petrol stations are being forced to close due to the lack of HGV drivers.

BP said it had been forced to close a number of forecourts across the country because of the problem.

Tesco said two of the 500 petrol stations it operates are currently affected but said the impact is minimal.

Meanwhile Esso said a “small number” of its 200 Tesco Alliance retail sites – operated jointly with the supermarket chain and separate from the two run by Tesco itself – are affected.

But now reports suggest the Army could be drafted in to help ease the pressure.

Contingency plans, called Operation Escalin, would go into action if the situation gets much worse, The Times reports.

Hoyer, one of the UK’s largest fuel logistics companies, revealed it was “struggling to meet deliveries”.

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It cannot find enough tanker drivers to make fuel deliveries and was said to be typically 20 short of the 400 to 450 a day needed.








Army drivers could be roped in under plans called Operation Escalin
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Image:

Daily Record)



The Road Haulage Association said the UK lacked 100,000 HGV drivers across the board.

The UK is facing a severe shortage of lorry drivers following an exodus of drivers from EU countries, who returned to the continent during the pandemic and stayed there.

This is coupled with the health crisis bringing DVLA testing centres to a standstill, creating a huge backlog of drivers taking their HGV test.

Hanna Hofer, BP’s head of UK retail, told a government meeting last week the situation was “bad, very bad”.

The company said up to 100 of its forecourts were short of at least one grade of fuel. It has started rationing petrol deliveries.



Several have been forced to close entirely due to problems with supplies.

Hofer said the petrol giant was down to two thirds of the “normal forecourt stock levels” needed to ensure “smooth operations.”

She added this level of stock is “declining rapidly”. It’s currently unknown how long stations will be unable to operate.



Petrol stations on motorways and major roads are being prioritised for fuel deliveries.

BP will “very soon” stop supplying several stations with petrol for 36 hours each week.

The company’s plan for the low stock involves providing 80% of normal service to 90% of stations.

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers’ Association – which represents independent forecourts across the UK, said the issue appeared to be “confined to London and the South-East and appear temporary by nature”.



He said that with fuel demand still at only 92% of pre-pandemic levels, “we believe there should be ample stock available at refineries and delivery terminals throughout the UK”.

A spokesman for the prime minister said the government acknowledged that there were “issues facing many industries across the UK, and not just in terms of HGV drivers”.

He added that there was no shortage of fuel and that there was a “very resilient and robust supply chain”.

“People should continue to shop for fuel as usual,” the spokesman said.


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