In England we are used to always having the opportunity to fill up our tanks once we have located the nearest petrol station. There was shock, confusion and frustration at the petrol station in Hampshire yesterday, when customers drove to the largest refuelling station in the area and nothing happened when they lifted up the hose and squeezed the trigger.
The Tescos Extra in Solent Road in Havant is an excellent superstore which is respected in the area for comparatively good customer service and product availability.
However there was surprise when people who were navigating to the pumps in their cars were instructed to follow the signs posted on the front of the entrance to the forecourt area that read “unleaded available on front pumps only”.
Many people were reversing out of the station to select another queue and aim for the front pumps as only diesel and premium unleaded, which is more expensive, was available at the rear fuel dispensers.
Then without warning all the fuel filling was abruptly stopped at 10:30. This caused more confusion as there was no notice of the supply cancellation and some locals had already pre-authorised their payment cards on the pre-pay machines ready to top up their tanks.
After a few minutes of bewilderment the petrol station assistant announced on the tannoy:
“please bear with us the system is down.” Customers did not know what this meant and how long they would be waiting and if it was going to be fixed anytime soon. So a few cars drove off presumably to find an alternative supply.
Thankfullyfor everyone in the vicinity, a few minutes later, the machines bounced back into action and refuelling commenced again without any further problems. Some car horns were tooted as impatient car owners added several minutes delay onto their schedules for the day. They were irritated at any further pause their neighbours might be adding while they reorganised themselves, as they negotiated and queued for the stopping spaces and then finally headed for the exit.
Serious fuel supply problems are very rare in the United Kingdom and most British petrol stations have not run out of fuel since eight years ago, when drivers rushed to fill up ahead of organised fuel tanker strikes.
“Petrol stations across Britain are reporting fuel shortages and long queues as the Government dismissed accusations that it had triggered panic buying ahead of the impending strike by fuel tanker drivers.” (1)
More recently in 2017 The Telegraph reported that Shell was planning to open its first ‘no petrol’ service station soon, consisting only of biofuel and electric charging points. (2)
This does not seem to be happening yet as electric cars still represent a fraction of the total market. Instead Shell are encouraging green consumers to offset their carbon emissions by using their mobile phones and downloading a special app. The new Shell app records their petrol and diesel usage and automatically contributes the appropriate amount into schemes that protect and generate forests.
(1) ‘Some petrol stations run out of fuel’ Richard Gasford ITV news, 30 March 2012 ‘Some Petrol Stations run Out of Fuel’ ITV
(2) ‘Shell plans UK’s first ‘no-petrol’ station as journey towards clean motoring continues’ Jillian Ambrose, The Telegraph Business, 23 Sep 2017 ‘Shell plans first no-petrol station’ Telegraph
(3) ‘Drivers set to go carbon neutral with Shell’ Official Shell website 10 Oct 2019 ‘Drivers go carbon neutral’ Shell