An industry chief has warned that petrol prices could shoot up by up to 3p a litre this week – but said “global factors” were to blame rather than profiteering.
Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), today warned that fuel shortages are getting worse in some parts of the country.
He said that London and the South East have been particularly badly hit.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “In London and the South East and possibly parts of eastern England, if anything it had got worse.”
Mr Madderson welcomed the announcement that military drivers are to be deployed from Monday, but he warned it will only have a limited impact.
“This isn’t going to be the major panacea,” he said. “It’s a large help but in terms of the volume, they are not going to be able to carry that much.
“We do need a prioritisation of deliveries to filling stations – particularly the independent ones which are the neighbourhood retail sites – in London and the South East starting immediately.”
He said rising world oil prices mean motorists should expect higher prices at the pumps when filling stations are resupplied.
“Expect anything from 1, 2 or even 3p a litre increases at the pump. This is not profiteering. This is genuine wholesale price increases causes by global factors.”
The average price of unleaded at supermarkets is £1.322, says the AA. But yesterday the Cloisters Gulf station in affluent Chelsea, London, was selling unleaded at 268.5p per litre and super unleaded at 293.5p.
Desperate motorists still queued to fill up and the station ran out of fuel.
A huge shortfall in HGV drivers has hit supply chains, with fuel not reaching garages and empty shelves in shops.
The Government has announced a temporary visa scheme for nearly 5,000 foreign food haulage drivers, which was due to expire on December 24, will be extended to the end of February.
Additionally, temporary visas are to be issued to 300 overseas fuel drivers “immediately”.
Under the scheme, those foreign drivers will be able to work in the UK from now until the end of March.