22% of petrol stations in some areas still don't have fuel

Around 22% of petrol stations in London and the South East are still running out of fuel, according to the director of the Petrol Retailers Association.

On Sky News, Gordon Balmer said, “We have a straw poll of our members every day, and about 11,000 websites responded yesterday.

“Around 22% of the petrol stations in London and the South East are fuelless.

“One of the situations seems to be worse at BP, but we know they are correcting that.

“Some of our members say they have been without fuel for a few days – some now for over a week.”

Mr Balmer added that the capital and the southeast are hardest hit by the fuel crisis due to their denser populations and it could take “a week to 10 days” for all locations to operate at normal fuel levels.

Army tanker drivers are on the road for the first time to replenish gas stations hit by the fuel crisis.

Around 200 military personnel – half of them drivers – are on duty in Operation Escalin, although ministers insist that the situation at the petrol pumps relax.

The troops, which have been on standby since the beginning of last week, will initially be concentrated in London and the south-east, where the greatest shortage remains.

This includes members of the 3rd Logistic Support Regiment who have trained at the logistics company for the oil industry Hoyers in Thurrock in Essex.

Ministers have been criticized for not sending them out sooner after a wave of panic buying – triggered by reports that gas station supplies had been cut – wreaked havoc on the forecourt.

However, since last week the government has been using its reserve tanker fleet – powered by civilian drivers – to boost supplies.

A government spokesman said: “We are working closely with industry to increase fuel supplies and there are signs of improvement in average gas station supplies across the UK, with demand continuing to stabilize.

“Stocks in London and southern England are recovering a little more slowly than other parts of the UK, so we have started using military personnel to increase supply in these areas.

Boris Johnson has said troops are being used as a “precautionary measure” (Jacob King / PA)

“More than half of those who have completed fuel delivery training will be deployed to terminals for London and the South East of England, which shows that the sector is assigning drivers to the hardest hit areas in this first phase starting Monday.”

Operation Escalin was originally launched in preparation for possible fuel shortages following the UK’s final exit from the EU internal market earlier this year.

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