The shortage of gas stations could continue for “about a week,” said a government minister.
Police Minister Kit Malthouse said fuel demand was still strong in some parts of the country and Boris Johnson would need to review the situation if it worsened.
He told BBC Radio 4 Today: “We are still seeing strong demand for fuel in parts of the country, although there is no problem with the supply of the country. The distribution mechanism seeks to respond to this unprecedented demand.
“My last briefing is that the situation will stabilize, that we will see more forecourts with a larger supply of fuel and that hopefully, when supply and demand are better balanced in the next few days – about a week – we will return to normal.
“I think if things get worse the Prime Minister and the Energy Secretary who are in charge of this will of course have to review the situation.
“What we have to see is stabilization and improvement over the next few days. Obviously there are only a limited number of tankers that can be used to carry this fuel.
“They are trying their best to get around as quickly as possible. There is now a coordination across the country looking at where there are supply problems and demand strengths and trying to balance the two. “
Gas stations are still running out of fuel faster than they can be refilled, retailers have warned as long lines continue to be reported in some parts of the country.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) indicated that the easing of the situation seemed to have stalled in recent days, with 27% of gas stations running empty – the same percentage as on Wednesday.
Executive Director Gordon Balmer said, “PRA members report that while they continue to take more fuel shipments, they run out faster than usual due to unprecedented demand.
“We urge drivers to maintain their buying habits and only refuel when needed to ensure they have enough fuel.
“It is important to remember that fuel supplies in refineries and terminals remain normal and deliveries have been reduced due to the lack of truck drivers alone.”
His comments appeared to contradict the government after a minister claimed the crisis was “under control”.
Treasury Secretary Simon Clarke told Sky News: “We are now in a situation where more fuel is being delivered to gas stations than is being sold, so the crisis is now absolutely under control.
“That will be easier if people just go back to normal shopping habits.”
The AA said that while there were queues at train stations across London, the south of England and in built-up areas, there were “encouraging signs of stability”.
AA President Edmund King said, “Most drivers managed to find fuel but may have had to go to several gas stations or queue up.
“Most of the drivers have changed their fueling behavior in the last five days, so that the filling stations can now refuel and gain a foothold again.”
Ministers have already started using the government’s reserve tanker fleet – powered by civilian drivers – to help supply the gas stations.
Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said that military drivers who have been on standby since Monday will also appear on the streets in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has proposed hiring prisoners to fill the greater labor shortage.
The government has rejected demands from the retail and hospitality industries to relax immigration rules in the run-up to Christmas to ensure services are maintained.
However, Mr. Raab, who is also Justice Minister, said that lower-level admission of offenders on the day of release from prison could reduce the likelihood of a new crime while benefiting the economy.
“We got prisoners and offenders to volunteer and unpaid,” he told The Spectator.
“Why not, when shortages encourage them to do paid work that is of benefit to the economy and society?
“If you give skin to the people in the game, you give them something to lose; if you give them some hope, they are far less likely to be offended again.”
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