NI escapes fuel fears panic

A local fuel supplier has said ‘press hype’ in Britain could be to blame for panic buying as Northern Ireland continues to escape long petrol station queues and closed pumps.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 4:00 am
A sign on fuel pumps showing no fuel available at a BP petrol station in Grangemouth. Picture date: Monday September 27, 2021.

People in mainland UK are panic buying fuel after concerns from BP were leaked that the shortage of lorry drivers could lead to a ‘fuel shortage’.

Gary Nicholl, sales director at NI’s Nicholl Oils, thinks the press coverage could be to blame, and said: “It’s been on a lot of front pages in the UK, and that maybe causes a bit of a hype and people are a bit more worried about it.”

The spike in demand caused nearly 5,500 independent outlets on the mainland to run out of fuel on Sunday.

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Commenting on the situation in NI, Mr Nicholl said: “Sales are slightly up, but only slightly, we are not seeing the panic buying and we are not seeing the queues.

“The supplies in the terminals at Belfast are reasonably good.

“As long as the demand remains at a similar level to the time of year we are in, I don’t see any issues at all with stock or deliveries, we are well situated at the moment to manage the demand.

“The public here have definitely not gone into a panic mode like the rest of the UK, it’s not happening here and you’re not seeing it at sites either.

“There is no issue at all with stocks in the terminals, I have checked that this morning.

“We are busy but it’s coming into the busy time of year, so we are reasonably well set for that.”

Mr Nicholl said that there is still a slight shortage of lorry drivers, often due to Covid-19 reasons such as self-isolating, but nothing near to what is happening on the mainland, and nothing that would cause any issues to the supply in Northern Ireland.

PM Boris Johnson is now considering bringing in Army troops to drive oil tankers as they have been training behind the scenes, confirmed the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), Brian Madderson.

Mr Johnson also announced that the government will create 5,000 three-month visas for foreign lorry drivers in an attempt to ease the situation.