Fuel supplies in London ‘may take up to 10 days to be back to normal’

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Industry bosses warned on Monday that it would take “a week to 10 days” for fuel supplies to return to normal at filling stations in London and the south-east, while army drivers prepared to help with deliveries.

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Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), said severe “pinches” remained in and around the capital, where about a quarter of the sites were completely dry yesterday.

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He said BP garages were the most affected, but we know they are fixing it.

The PRA represents approximately 5,500 of the UK’s 8,300 petrol stations. Mr Balmer also said there was “a good chance” of a recurrence of deficiencies before Christmas as drivers fill up before long drives to visit family or friends.

He told Sky News: “Everyone is pulling out all the stops to make sure we have enough supplies … Some people will need to think, do I need fuel now or do I plan to so I can go next week or so. Get fuel once the situation settles down?”

Mr Balmer was speaking when the first soldiers arrived at the Bunsfield oil depot in Hertfordshire after a week of training with the petroleum industry logistics company Hoyers in Thurrock, Essex. Soldiers in uniform and wearing face masks were seen walking near the gate of the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Terminal on Monday morning.

Most of the army’s drivers will deliver petrol and diesel to London and the forecourt of the south-east.

In total, 200 military personnel – half of them drivers – are being deployed in Operation Escaline, which was originally designed to deal with shortcomings after Brexit was completed in January.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak insisted the fuel situation was improving. He told LBC radio: “This is a situation that is improving, these are the facts.”

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