The Gas Chaos: Gasoline Shortages and Long Lines at U.K. Gas Stations
The Gas Chaos: Gasoline Shortages and Long Lines at U.K. Gas Stations
  • Kim Yu-jeong (ST Reporter)
  • 승인 2022.01.16 18:13
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As the economy worsened due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, oil inventories eventually ran out in the UK. ST would like to learn about the seriousness and causes of the “oil hoarding” incident in the UK. ....................................................................................................... Ed

     About a third of BP (The British Petroleum Co., PLC) branches operating 1,200 gas stations in the UK have been exhausted since September 23, due to the gas station crisis in the UK, while some gas stations have been temporarily closed. Each gas station had a yellow notice with an unknown phrase, while some wrapped the pipe tightly in a plastic bag. Only a notice that each gas station ran out of gas welcomed the vehicle. To make matters worse, some British gas stations, where oil remains, suffered from oil hoarding by drivers who brought empty bottles. At a gas station in London, a man in his 20s threatened a cut-in car with a deadly weapon, and drivers used violence against a gas station owner who was closing down as it was running out of gas. In the UK, there was literally an ‘oil crisis’ in which vehicles could not be refueled even after going around 10 gas stations or waiting for hours, resulting in a gas crisis.

     There is no disagreement that the root cause of this ‘oil crisis’ is the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, that is, ‘Brexit.’ Since Britain is no longer a one-body economic zone with the EU after Brexit, EU truck drivers are not free to come to the UK, and get jobs as drivers. In other words, the free movement of the labor force became impossible. Furthermore, visa problems, which were non-existent before Brexit, occurred, and as the value of the British pound fell, income given to drivers from Europe also decreased. When Brexit took effect in January, the UK implemented a system that virtually prevents visa issuance to low-skilled, low-wage workers or those who have difficulty speaking English. In fact, in 2017, the number of EU truck drivers in the UK reached about 45,000, but, this year, when Brexit was implemented, it was about 25,000. It has decreased by nearly half in a few years. In other words, many of the workers driving fuel trucks were foreign workers, and some of the workers returned to their home countries due to the new Covid-19 pandemic. The ‘oil crisis’ in the UK resulted from insufficient new inflows of workers due to Brexit. 


     The unprecedented oil crisis led the British government to push for family measures, such as transporting oil via troops and issuing temporary visas to foreign drivers. On October 4, about 200 military personnel joined the transport operation, and they went through transport vehicle training at the project fuel loading site. Furthermore, the British government promoted the issuance of 5,000 temporary visas to foreign drivers. However, EU truck drivers are still reluctant to go to the UK. This is because complaints have accumulated so far, including complicated customs clearance procedures and poor treatment of foreign truck drivers since Brexit. In the end, the difficulty of finding a British truck driver is unlikely to be resolved in a short time, and there is a gloomy prospect that negotiations on the shortage of daily necessities will continue until Christmas. At the same time, there are also warnings that the ‘oil crisis’ could lower Britain’s economic growth rate.

Kim Yu-jeong (ST Reporter)

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