Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Saturday, 26 April 2008 15:48 UK

Drivers urged against fuel rush

Motorist filling up her car at a petrol station

Ministers and trade bodies have urged motorists not to panic-buy fuel, as some petrol stations across Scotland reported shortages.

The plea came on the eve of a 48-hour strike at Grangemouth, Scotland's only oil refinery, amid a pensions dispute.

UK Business Secretary John Hutton asked members of the public to stick to their normal fuel-buying routine.

However, the petrol retailers' body said most people seemed to be paying attention to the advice.

Douglas Robertson, of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, said the situation was now calmer than earlier in the week, with much of the pressure on Glasgow and Edinburgh forecourts.

The strike, getting under way at 0600 BST on Sunday, will also cause the shutdown of the Forties pipeline, which delivers 30% of the UK's daily oil output to the BP Kinneil plant, which is powered by Grangemouth.

I don't blame them but some people are just putting in 1.50 or 2 in because their tanks are already full
Ian Niven
Broxden service station

Industry body Oil and Gas UK called for government intervention to ensure essential services to the plant were maintained.

Scottish ministers said any move to hike prices on forecourts would be unacceptable.

Mr Robertson said small increases were justified, but would not condone massive price rises.

"Where they're selling three times as much as they normally sell obviously they have to bring in extra staff so that may be to justify a rise of one or two pence a litre," he said.

"But anyone charging any more than two or three pence more than they normally charge I'm afraid comes into the profiteering realm and we would certainly not defend that."

Staff at the Dundee Shell petrol station at East Marketgait said it had run out of fuel and did not know when it would get another delivery.

Broxden services, on the outskirts of Perth, was also running at very low levels, partly because it had not received its daily fuel delivery since Wednesday.

Customers at a petrol station in Scotland

Manager, Ian Niven, said: "I don't blame them but some people are just putting in 1.50 or 2 in because their tanks are already full.

"It's pointless, they've probably spent more running around trying to find somewhere to get fuel."

Perth's South Inch filling station manager, Douglas Fleming, said staff had stopped people filling up cans - but were not rationing fuel.

Lothian and Borders Police, which said they had enough fuel to cover the duration of the strike, issued a plea for members of the public to stop contacting them about the ongoing situation.

Mr Hutton insisted there was plenty of petrol and diesel in Scotland to meet demand, but he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "Of course, there is going to be a challenge if people change the way that they consume fuel."

Every effort is being made to replenish filling stations but I urge motorists to maintain their normal pattern of re-fuelling
Chris Hunt
UK Petroleum Industry Association

"There is every reason believe that we will get through this period sensibly if people continue to buy fuel sensibly, too."

Mr Hutton said that, in a situation where there was plenty of fuel, there was no justification for implementing "draconian" emergency rationing powers.

His calls were echoed by the UK Petroleum Industry Association.

Director general, Chris Hunt, said: "In Scotland, the problem is mainly one of distribution as substantially higher levels of demand than normal are causing stock outs at some filling stations.

"Every effort is being made to replenish filling stations but I urge motorists to maintain their normal pattern of re-fuelling.

Mr Hunt said England and Wales would have "more than adequate" supplies of crude oil, despite the Forties pipeline shutdown.


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