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BP closes some sites due to lorry driver shortage




  • In Business
  • 2021-09-23 14:46:55Z
  • By BBC

BP has warned it has had to "temporarily" close some of its petrol stations due to a shortage of lorry drivers.

The oil firm said only "a handful" of sites were affected by the fuel supply issues due to a lack of unleaded and diesel fuel.

There are around 1,200 BP branded petrol stations around the UK, of which 300 are operated by BP themselves.

The company said it was working hard to address the issues.

Supply chain delays had been 'impacted by industry wide driver shortages across the UK' and that the company was working hard to address the issues, BP said in a statement.

'We continue to work with our haulier supplier to minimise disruption and to ensure efficient and effective deliveries', the company added.

Other petrol station operators have been approached by the BBC for comment.

The temporary closures come just months after BP had to close a "handful" of its UK sites in July because of lorry driver shortages. At the time, BP said its supply chain issues had also been exacerbated by the closure of a distribution terminal due to staff being told to isolate.

BP Worcester
BP Worcester  

'I can't operate a site at a loss'

Paul Cheema has run a petrol station in Coventry since 2013, and says he's never experienced a situation like this before.

"We used to be able to put orders in for next day delivery. Now we have to do it a week in advance, but we're ordering blind. We don't know how much fuel we're going to sell in that time. If we'll have enough, or even too much," says Paul.

"Last week we put in an order for a delivery to arrive today. That was pushed back until tomorrow, and now we've been told it won't arrive until Saturday."

"So that means we won't have any unleaded petrol to sell tomorrow," he said.

Paul says that fuel delivery delays have been happening all summer, but it's been particularly bad in the last couple of weeks.

"We're a petrol station. We should have availability 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I'm not blaming our fuel supplier. It's not their fault. It's the bigger driver shortage problem behind it."

He sells thousands of litres of unleaded every day, so the cost implications for him are huge.

"There could be a 40% impact on sales with this week's delivery problems. If I haven't got any liquid in the ground, I'm not making money. I can't operate the site at a loss."

"If I haven't got fuel to sell, that customer isn't coming into my petrol station shop either, so I'm losing money there too," says Paul.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents petrol station operators across the UK, said that some sites across the UK were seeing delivery delays, but that they were largely confined to London and the South-East, and were 'temporary by nature'.

Gordon Balmer from the PRA said that petrol station closures were rare, and that the fuel supply chain was resilient enough to cope.

"Fuel demand is still only at 92% of pre-pandemic levels so we believe there should be ample stock available at refineries and delivery terminals throughout the UK", said Mr Balmer.

Many businesses have been complaining about the UK's shortage of lorry drivers, which is still causing serious supply chain problems.

The coronavirus pandemic, Brexit and tax changes have all contributed to a lack of qualified drivers. Industry bodies estimate there is a shortfall of about 100,000 workers.

Logistics UK, which represents the haulage industry, said it was "aware of reports that petrol supplies are currently being affected" by the lack of drivers.

"The driver shortage is a very serious issue that needs urgent government and industry action to resolve, however, we urge people not to panic buy; the logistics industry is resilient and has proven capable of supporting shops, families and businesses during Covid-19, border closures and the first stages of Brexit, and will continue to serve the needs of the nation," the industry body said.

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