Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 18:49 UK

Fuel 1.99 a litre as tanks dry

Petrol station charges 1.99 a litre
The station said dwindling stocks had caused the price rise

A Devon petrol station has been charging 1.99 a litre - more than 9 a gallon - as nearly 400 forecourts in the county suffered dwindling supplies.

The Foxhayes station at Exwick, near Exeter, said it had put all petrol and diesel prices up to conserve stocks.

About 380 filling stations have experienced supply problems or closed altogether, business leaders said.

The problems follow a strike by Shell tanker drivers in a dispute over pay.

We're not being mean... the price will go back to normal as soon as we get a delivery
Ron James

Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council Tim Jones said: "It started out in a pretty orderly way. People got out of bed and thought: 'It's just going to be Shell garages' and what did they see? They saw a lot of 'no petrol' signs right across the board.

"It wasn't just the Shell garages, and that started a ripple effect."

Foxhayes station manager Ron James said his price hike was to preserve supplies and said he was "not being mean".

He told BBC News: "It's all been panic buying.

"People have been coming in buying 80 to 100 of fuel instead of 10 and 20.

Service stations other than those operated by Shell have been affected too

"It's been chaos and it's still chaos. I've never seen anything like it in 30 years of petrol retailing."

He added: "We cannot get any more supplies, we're not being mean.

"The price will go back to normal as soon as we get a delivery."

In the meantime, drivers who buy petrol from the garage while the prices are high are getting a 24 discount off an MoT.

Petrol supplies in another South West town ran out on Monday.

Some drivers from Liskeard travelled as far as Plymouth, 12 miles (19km) away, for fuel as other petrol stations struggled to maintain supplies.

Picket lines were in place at a fuel depot in Cattedown, Plymouth, until late on Monday afternoon, barring any tankers from taking deliveries. Fuel supplies began to leave the site after picketers left.

Talks were held on Monday between haulage firms contracted to Shell and their tanker drivers to avert another strike next weekend. They are due to continue on Tuesday.


SEE ALSO
Town runs out of petrol supplies
16 Jun 08 |  Cornwall
Talks to resume in Shell dispute
16 Jun 08 |  Business
Talks to avert tanker strike fail
11 Jun 08 |  Business

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