BP closes UK petrol stations due to shortage of drivers

Oil company temporarily suspends operations at a 'handful' of British retail sites

Fuel giant BP has closed some forecourts as a shortage of lorry drivers hits deliveries. Photo: PA

Oil company BP on Thursday said it had temporarily closed some of its petrol forecourts in Britain after an industry-wide shortage of lorry drivers disrupted deliveries from refineries.

"We are experiencing some fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the UK and unfortunately have therefore seen a handful of sites temporarily close due to a lack of both unleaded and diesel grades," BP said.

BP, which has about 1,200 branded stations across the UK, said it was acting to address the issue.

"We continue to work with our haulier supplier to minimise any future disruption and to ensure efficient and effective deliveries to serve our customers," it said.

BP said it was giving priority to motorway service areas, major trunk roads and sites with the largest demand, and trying to keep retail disruptions to a minimum.

ExxonMobil's Esso said a small number of its 200 Tesco Alliance retail sites in the UK had also been affected.

"We are working closely with all parties in our distribution network to optimise supplies and minimise any inconvenience to customers," Esso said.

The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents independent forecourts that account for 65 per cent of Britain's petrol stations, said the issues appeared to be confined to London and south-east England, and seemed to be temporary.

"According to latest BEIS (business department) data, fuel demand is still only at 92 per cent of pre-pandemic levels so we believe there should be ample stock available at refineries and delivery terminals throughout the UK," the association's Gordon Balmer said.

A sign shows a petrol pump at a BP garage on Speke Hall Road, in Liverpool, is out of use. Photo: PA

The drivers' shortage has also caused widespread disruption to Britain's food sector.

The trucking industry has said it needs another 90,000 drivers to meet demand after Brexit made it harder for European workers to drive in Britain and the Covid-19 pandemic prevented new workers from qualifying.

Updated: November 22, 2021, 8:49 AM