Fuel strike fears causes panic at the pumps
Demand for petrol in the UK was up 172% and 77% for diesel on Thursday after fears of a fuel strike, independent retailers' group RMI Petrol has reported.
Across the country, worried drivers are trying to stockpile petrol after government ministers called for consumers to top-up their tanks over warnings of potential fuel tanker strikes over the Easter weekend.
Large queues have been building at petrol stations and fears of a shortage have sent consumers into a buying frenzy but a fuel strike has yet to be announced and the AA is urging drivers not to panic buy.
"This situation is totally unnecessary, totally self-inflicted and quite frankly a bit of a mess. It's no surprise that the top-up advice has led to shortages," says Edmund King, president of the AA.
He explains that if 30 million cars on a half tank top-up within a 24-hour period this means 750 million litres will be sold. On a normal day around 90 million litres are sold so if this continues there will be a shortage.
King says you shouldn't fill up unless it is necessary and consumers need to calm down and not to panic buy, pointing out that for every minute spent queuing 2-3p of fuel is wasted.
The reason for the panic at the pump is due to government ministers advising people to stock up before a potential strike by tanker drivers. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude telling people to fill up jerry cans with petrol just in case of industrial action - which he has now apologised for - only inflamed the situation.
Members of the Unite union who drive fuel to Shell and Esso garages as well as many supermarket petrol stations are threatening to strike over pay conditions and talks are planned for Monday.
However, if a strike goes ahead it will need to be announced within seven days so it looks unlikely to occur over the Easter holiday.
Have you filled up your car this week? Are you worried about a potential strike? Let us know in the comment box below.