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Petrol crisis: Army begins delivering fuel to forecourts

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The Army has started delivering fuel to petrol forecourts. Photo: NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
The Army has started delivering fuel to petrol forecourts. Photo: NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

The UK government response to the fuel crisis kicked up a gear on Monday, as the army began Operation Escalin with deliveries to petrol forecourts.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed the start of the deliveries to Yahoo Finance, but did not say how much or to which locations the fuel would be delivered.

The Petrol Retailers Association said last week that although stocks of fuel at refineries were normal, the shortage of HGV drivers needed to deliver it to pumps was causing the issue. It said there were "early signs" the shortage was ending. 

London and the South East appeared to be the worst-affected areas. 

“We are working closely with industry to help increase fuel stocks and there are signs of improvement in average forecourt stocks across the UK with demand continuing to stabilise,” a government spokesperson said.

“Stocks in London and the South of England have been recovering at slightly slower rates than other parts of the UK, so we have begun deploying military personnel to boost supply in these areas.

“More than half of those who have completed training to make fuel deliveries are being deployed to terminals serving London and the South-East of England, demonstrating that the sector is allocating drivers to areas most affected in this first phase from Monday.”

Based on returns from hauliers, the total projected impact of the initial military deployment on London and the South-East is estimated to be an additional 1.55 million litres per day from Monday 4 October, rising to 2.6 million litres per day by Thursday 7 October.

Prime minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday the disruption could extend to Christmas, acknowledging the country is going through a "period of adjustment" post-Brexit.

Last Tuesday the PM had made a bid to soothe drivers queuing at empty pumps on the availability of supplies, noting the situation is "improving", following days of queues across the country.

Last week 150 tankers were being prepared to deliver fuel. A further 150 personnel support were also ready to help out as part of the military effort.

Read more: Global markets swoon as Evergrande hints at rescue deal

As part of the effort to abate supply chain woes the government also said it would implement a temporary visa scheme for 5,000 foreign food haulage drivers. This was originally due to expire on Christmas eve, however has since been extended to the end of February following outcry over how attractive it would actually be for drivers. 

Watch: Boris Johnson doesn't rule out disruption at Christmas

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