Fuel Crisis: Will NI have a petrol and diesel shortage, and why is there a fuel shortage in the UK?

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Talk of fuel shortage has been hitting the headlines, with images of long queues at petrol stations, but how has the fuel shortage impacted NI?

The UK petrol crisis has been impacting fuel pumps at England, Scotland and Wales, but in Northern Ireland, we haven't seen the same shortages.

Is there a fuel shortage in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland has not experienced the shortages or panic buying that England, Scotland and Wales has.

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There have been long queues for petrol across England, Scotland and WalesThere have been long queues for petrol across England, Scotland and Wales
There have been long queues for petrol across England, Scotland and Wales

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association said, “There are plenty of HGV drivers, there is plenty of fuel in terminals in Derry and Belfast and there is plenty of fuel underground at the forecourts.”

However, Asda stores in Northern Ireland have recently brought in a £30 limit at their pumps across the province.

This means that their 17 stores with petrol stations in Antrim, Newtownards, Ballyclare, Coleraine, Enniskillen, Omagh, Bangor, Cookstown, Portadown, Downpatrick and Strabane will all now have a limit on how much petrol you can buy.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Asda's spokesperson said: “To ensure as many customers as possible can refuel, we have put a temporary limit of £30 per transaction on our forecourts."

Why is there a fuel crisis?

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The fuel crisis is down to there being a shortage of lorry drivers who can deliver petrol.

The lorry industry has seen a shortage of nearly 100,000 drivers, which is having a severe knock on effect for supplying goods across the UK.

It's not just petrol that's being impacted, with supermarkets full of empty shelves and many retailers struggling to restock items.

Why aren't there enough HGV drivers?

Brexit and the global pandemic have both caused a severe shortage of drivers.

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After Brexit many drivers from the EU decided to return home, whilst the pandemic also saw drivers leave the UK.

Few have returned back and with older drivers now retiring and a backlog of HGV driver tests due to Covid, there is no one to fill the gaps in the market.

What are the government doing?

In the wake of the crisis, the government in Westminster have been trying to ease the situation.

The first thing they brought in was a suspension of competition law between oil firms, making sharing fuel between companies easier.

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They have also brought in 5,000 temporary visas for lorry drivers, who may have left the UK due to Brexit or the pandemic, and they will be speeding up the process for getting an HGV driver licence.

The government have also got the army involved, and confirmed that there will be 150 drivers available to help to deliver petrol in the upcoming days.