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Daily Telegraph: Pumps run dry as blast takes its toll: “Shell was one of the worst hit yesterday, with some garages in the midlands and south-east running out.”: Wednesday 28 December 2005


By Christopher Hope, Industry Editor (Filed: 28/12/2005)


Petrol stations ran dry across parts of the midlands and south-east yesterday as oil companies struggled to get supplies through after the Christmas week and the blast at the Buncefield oil terminal near Hemel Hempstead.


The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) estimated between 50 and 60 garages had run out, although the figure was as many as 90 in the final hours before Christmas Day as motorists headed home for the festive break.


The main shortages were reported at stations in the south midlands, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.


The PRA's Ray Holloway said the week before Christmas is second only to the holiday period in August for the busiest week of the year.


He said: "Quite a few [garages] had short-term problems. Different companies are getting to them in different ways. The stations are now refuelling because the motorists aren't."


However, Mr Holloway added that not all petrol brands were affected.


Shell was one of the worst hit yesterday, with some garages in the midlands and south-east running out. Company sources blamed the shortages on the disruption caused by the blast at the Buncefield oil depot and the fact that no deliveries were made on Christmas Day.


Shell said that "the majority" of its 1,000 stations were working normally, with extra tanker drivers working 24 hours a day to get its petrol stations fuelled up.


A spokesman said: "We do have some stock-outs in stations within the south-east and midlands but the situation will vary station to station.


"Nationwide our network is operating normally. We have extra tankers on the road making fuel deliveries and each station which is stocked out is scheduled to get a delivery today."


Texaco said that "a handful" of its petrol stations had run out of fuel. A spokesman said: "We have got a seasonal increase in demand just before Christmas. Buncefield has not helped."


Total, the French oil and gas giant which owns 850 petrol stations across England and Wales, said: "We have a short-term supply issue to some of our service stations. Some are going dry. But since the Buncefield fire we have increased our tanker deliveries."


BP, which had its supplies barely affected by the Buncefield explosion, reported no "systemic problems" with its petrol supply, although there might be the odd station that ran dry.


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