Thousands of UK gas stations ran dry over the weekend amid an acute shortage of truck drivers, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson considering sending in the military to help deliveries.
Lines of cars built up outside gas stations nationwide on Sunday as Brexit-related supply chain issues hit hard, Reuters reported.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which includes around 5,500 of the country's 8,000 gas stations, said that as many as two thirds of its stations are "partly dry and running out soon," the BBC reported.
At at least one station, in north London, drivers ended up fighting one another over access to fuel.
—LBC News (@LBCNews) September 27, 2021
Reports of a crisis in the supply chain — caused mainly by a shortage of drivers — sparked a flurry of panic-buying. Fuel companies and industry bodies including Esso and ExxonMobil insisted in a joint statement that there was no overall shortage of gas.
The statement, published by the government Sunday, said that "the issues that have arisen are due to temporary spikes in customer demand, not a national shortage of fuel."
Boris Johnson was due set to attend emergency meetings Monday to consider "Operation Escalin," which would mobilize hundreds of soldiers to drive a fleet of 80 fuel tankers, The Guardian reported.
But that move alone wouldn't solve the crisis, the PRA warned the prime minister Monday, according to the Independent.
Johnson has also ordered a pause in the industry's competition law, allowing companies to share information about supply levels, the BBC reported.
The supply of drivers has been choked by post-Brexit changes to visa rules, causing an exodus of European drivers from the country, the BBC reported.
The COVID-19 pandemic also caused a backlog in tests for new lorry drivers to get their licences.
The snarl in the gas supply follows widespread shortages of other goods caused by the driver shortage, with supermarket shelves frequently under-stocked.
The situation has been compared to the UK's "Winter of Discontent," a period over the winter of 1978-1979 when nationwide strikes caused major shortages in goods and fuel.