Fuel headache as stations run dry

IT WASN'T so much panic buying as no buying at all.

Tom Potter

IT WASN'T so much panic buying as no buying at all.

The pumps were deserted at a number of the forecourts in and around Ipswich after petrol supplies ran dry.

Those that did have sufficient provisions had already seen the worst of the queues before the weekend.

But the four day strike by oil tanker drivers employed by two companies on Shell contracts may be repeated next week unless the dispute over pay is resolved.

A cashier at Shell, Orwell Bridge, was twiddling his thumbs yesterday when custom dried up as quickly as the petrol had.

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He said: “It's very quiet at the moment because we're out of unleaded and diesel. We haven't had any since Saturday but we expect a delivery on Tuesday.

“People have been driving up, seeing that there is no petrol and driving off again.”

Even at stations where fuel is plentiful, there has been no evidence of the feared rush on filling up.

Debbie Hodgson, manager of Sainsbury's Warren Heath petrol station, saw the worst of the panic end before yesterday.

She said: “Saturday was absolutely horrendous but we still have plenty of supplies. Drivers have been coming in telling us the same thing is going to happen next week.

“Hopefully we'll keep all our pumps open whatever happens.

“People have to remember that even when the dispute is settled, it's going to take a couple of days for everything to get back to normal.”

Some motorists were forced to pay about seven pence more for a litre of superior grade petrol after ordinary unleaded ran out.

Drivers have been urged not to panic-buy but could face the threat of worsening shortages as most garage owners report an increase in demand.

Talks between drivers and the union representing the drivers are due to resume tomorrow.

What do you think of the fuel farce? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk