Britons have not yet stopped hoarding petrol. Something the government called for yesterday. Oil company BP has announced that a third of their pumps are approaching the end of the supply of petrol. So Boris Johnson considers deploying military to supply gas stations.
“Operation Escalin” is the name of the crisis plan that Boris Johnson is considering today. Johnson has gathered his most important cabinet members to consider deploying several hundred soldiers to supply the depleted petrol pumps.
In addition to BP, Shell also sees the petrol stocks in its filling stations dwindling. The Petrol Retailers Association reports that 50 to 90 percent of its 5,500 stations are starting to run out.
There has been a rush for petrol in Britain for several days now. There are long queues in front of gas stations with motorists who want to fill their tank or jerry quickly before it is no longer possible. The reason behind the rush is not an actual fuel shortage but a problem with the distribution. Due to Brexit, many truck drivers have left the country, making supplies difficult. The British transport sector association states that there are no fewer than 100,000 vacancies to be filled.
That is reason enough for Boris Johnson to issue 5,000 temporary emergency visas for European truck drivers. According to the transport sector, that is far too little. FNV representative Edwin Atema told the BBC today that he does not expect many truck drivers to bite. According to the FNV member, the working conditions in Great Britain are far too bad for that.
The British government, meanwhile, is doing everything it can to avert the panic. Transport Minister Grant Shapps called on British motorists this weekend to be “reasonable”. “It’s not that we don’t have petrol in the country,” the minister told Sky News. “The most important thing is that people refuel as they normally would. Then there are no queues and no shortages at the pump.”
For the time being, the British are not really listening to that message. Reason for Johnson to now consider the deployment of the military. The army is currently being deployed to accelerate people’s training to become truck drivers.