UK fuel deliveries could be completed by the army by the end of the week, as panic buying has continued across the country.
Prime minister Boris Johnson made a bid to soothe drivers on the availability of supplies on Tuesday, noting the situation is "improving", following days of queues and pump closures across the country.
“What we’re hearing from the industry is the situation at forecourts is stabilising,” he said, also confirming he would not prioritise key workers at the pumps, despite warnings that having health workers stuck in queues could put lives at risk.
The command has not been given to the army yet, but 150 tankers will get ready to deliver fuel. A further 150 personnel support are also ready to help out as part of the military effort.
“They’re still on standby but can now start training now it’s approved,” a government source told the PA news agency.
It was reported that drivers will undertake specialist training in the coming days to prepare for deployment.
On Sunday, energy giant BP (BP.L) said a third of its petrol stations had run out of the main two grades of fuel. The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) — representing 5,500 independent outlets — also said that 50% to 90% of members had reported running out.
The PRA issued an update yesterday that 37% of the forecourts it represented were out of petrol.
A government source confirmed to the BBC reports that 16% of all petrol stations were now fully supplied with fuel, compared with 10% at the weekend during some of the worst of the fuel rush.
The source said that 40% of petrol stations being fully supplied was a more normal figure before demand spiked.
With the crisis having started five days ago, some experts are predicting that the balance between demand and supply could even out by Saturday.
Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA, said: "Potentially, we could reach a point of some equilibrium between supply and demand towards this weekend."
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls told Sky News this morning the attempts to fix the petrol shortage were "sticking plasters," adding that businesses would "remain fragile" as Christmas approaches.