Motorists are being warned against panic buying at petrol stations this weekend following a wave of closures due to supply chain issues – after various eco-mobs blocked oil terminals across the south this week.
Many petrol stations across England are closed after running out of fuel following days of disruption from Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, who glued themselves to roads at major depots, chained themselves to pipes and trucks and even crawled through a depot’s tunnel network.
The eco-warriors have vowed further disruption this weekend as a huge protest got underway in central London on Saturday afternoon that they warned would be ‘impossible to ignore.’
Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire and parts of the capital have been particularly impacted today, with the many filling stations closed or suffering with long queues as people tried to fill up.
Tesco petrol station at Bar Hill in Cambridge and the petrol station at Cambridge Services on the A14 both ran out of fuel on Friday after motorists flocked to both sites to refuel.
The BP station in Soham was also closed and the Tesco petrol station in Newmarket, Suffolk, had long queues before they finally ran out on Saturday morning.
It comes after multiple garages also ran dry in Peterborough and Birmingham on Friday.
Londoners have also complained of struggling to fill up today, as one tweeted: ‘Why is no one talking about the fact there’s no petrol again? I’ve been all over the place and ended up having to come home on empty.’
Another said late last night: ‘No petrol in London petrol stations. Tried four petrol stations all closed.’
Meanwhile Balan Nadarajah, manager at Abingdon BP garage in Oxfordshire, told the Oxford Mail that the petrol station had completely run out of diesel, adding that he suspects the blockades are to blame.
He said: ‘We haven’t got any diesel at all; we only have 4,000 litres of unleaded which we will probably run out of today.
Many petrol stations across the south of the UK are closed after running out of petrol and diesel following days of disruption from Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, who glued themselves to roads at major depots, chained themselves to pipes and trucks and even crawled through a depot’s tunnel network in Essex. (Pictured: Fuel runs dry at petrol station in Birmingham on Friday)
The AA today pleaded with drivers to fill up their cars as normal and to avoid rushing to petrol stations – even if they see that their local garages are closed on social media. (Pictured: Fuel runs dry in Peterborough on Saturday)
Social media users complained of petrol shortages in London and Oxford on Saturday and overnight
‘Hopefully we will have a delivery, but we haven’t had any news from BP yet.’
A store manager from a BP on Launton Road told the paper: ‘We don’t know when we’re getting our next lot of fuel. We’ll be out of everything in the next 20 minutes.’
It comes as the AA today pleaded with drivers to fill up their cars as normal and to avoid rushing to petrol stations – even if they see that their local garages are closed on social media.
A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘If you have half a tank, just wait until tomorrow or Monday to fill it up, there’s no need to rush to the station.
‘If your station is closed, you will probably find another one near you that isn’t.’
He added: ‘While the blockades have undoubtedly had an impact, the closures appear to be localised and not nationwide.
‘The only impact they’ve had so far is the equivalent of a bad storm, the fuel industry is more than capable of dealing with such disruptions.
‘The great thing about oil tankers is that they’re mobile and can simply unload at other ports which aren’t being targeted.’
The spokesman said the closures have been partly caused by the fact that it is the weekend, particularly as families are looking to get away for Easter.
He urged people not to panic if they see a picture of a closed petrol station on social media.
Cambridgeshire has been particularly impacted today, with the majority of filling stations being closed or suffering with long queues as people tried to fill up. (Pictured: Fuel runs out in station in London on Friday)
‘The blockaders want to make the whole system fall down,’ he said, ‘they want to see petrol stations run out of fuel by making people rush to fill up their cars.
‘While they have had some impact, the fuel deliveries eventually get through.’
Climate protestors Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion teamed up to blockade key terminals this week, meaning some tanker drivers were not able to deliver fuel to station depots.
They say they want to disrupt fuel supplies to London and the South East of England and will continue until the Government agrees to stop all new fossil fuel investments.
The protests are exacerbating existing supply issues due to increased demand after Covid lockdowns and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It comes as working Britons face a hike in National Insurance and soaring food and energy prices as Boris Johnson admitted families face ‘tough times’ and will have to ‘choose’ where to cut back spending.
And from today, the group are planning new ‘rebellions’ which will start at London’s Hyde Park and then spread throughout the capital – saying that they will be ‘impossible to ignore’.
‘We are getting a lot of reports to us and on social media of fuel shortages across the country,’ they told MailOnline on Friday.
A source at one major petrol station operator told MailOnline: ‘[The protests] are affecting every retailer in the country. We have no issue at all with supply, but we’re having to get fuel deliveries from terminals elsewhere in the UK that haven’t been affected by this huge disruption’
It comes as eco-fanatic groups Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion teamed up to blockade key terminals leaving tanker drivers unable to deliver fuel to station depots. Pictured: Police stand beside a tanker with Just Stop Oil protestors standing on top
Brent crude oil hit a multi-year high of $128 in early March – up from lows of $19 seen at the peak of the pandemic
When asked about the chaos caused by the group’s protests, the spokesperson said they felt ‘no choice but to act’ to pressure the government into cutting off Britain’s reliance on fuel.
‘The Government can end the misery of empty filling stations immediately by making a statement to end new oil and gas,’ they said.
Several of the ports most affected are in Essex where people have been attaching themselves to fuel tankers with glue and bike locks.
XR activists shut down Tower Bridge
Extinction Rebellion protesters have shut down Tower Bridge by abseiling off the sides of the London landmark.
Two activists are hanging from the bridge by suspension cords and have unfurled a huge banner that reads: ‘End fossil fuels now.’
The bridge, a main traffic artery across the Thames, is closed to vehicles, causing long queues.
The pair hung the banner at 7am on Friday and also released red flares.
The Metropolitan Police said officers were called to the bridge at 7.30am and no arrests have been made.
Extinction Rebellion said: ‘The action has taken place at the gateway to the City of London – the root source of fossil fuel funding in the UK – and on the eve of the April Rebellion which begins tomorrow at 10am in Hyde Park.’
Amy Rugg-Easey, who is taking part in the demonstration, said: ‘I ask myself why I do these things all the time, and the main thing that drives me is that I have tremendous hope and optimism in humanity’s ability to fight the climate crisis – but there are certain people who continue to prevent that for their own profit.
Chafford Hundred, West Thurrock and the Purfleet Fuels Terminals are among the 10 ‘critical’ sites that have been blocked across the country.
The operation has cost more than £1 million since last Friday, according to Essex’s Deputy Chief Constable Andy Prophet, and more protestors have continued to arrive.
By Friday, some 268 people have now been arrested by Essex Police alone.
Seven of the ten protests were carried out by Just Stop Oil at Navigator Terminals Thames, Inter Terminals UK and Purfleet Fuels Terminal all in Grays; Buncefield Oil Depot in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire; Esso Petroleum in Tyburn, Birmingham; and Kingsbury Oil Terminal and BP Oil Depot, both in Tamworth, Staffordshire.
The further three were organised by Extinction Rebellion demonstrators at the Esso West Terminal near London Heathrow Airport, Hamble Terminals in Southampton and Hythe Terminal in Fawley, Hampshire.
In a tweet by Extinction Rebellion’s Cambridge branch the group shared photos of fuel ‘running dry across Cambridge’.
‘@JustStop_Oil and @XRebellionUK are blockading oil terminals across the UK.
‘Shown here are petrol stations in Sainsbury’s Coldhams Lane, Tesco Fulbourn, and BP Elizabeth Way and Cherry Hinton.’
The Petrol Retailers Association said: ‘We are aware of protests at a number of fuel supply sites; however the majority of terminals are currently unaffected.
‘PRA has not had any members contacting regarding supply issues. Some fuel suppliers are having to reschedule deliveries and our members are working closely with them and following their advice.’
Fuel prices have risen to record highs in recent weeks, with some garages and forecourts charging more than £2/litre for diesel at one point.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak tried to mitigate the effects of price rises as he last month begged petrol stations to pass on a 5p fuel duty cut at the pumps that he delivered in his Spring Statement.
Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco were among the major supermarkets to confirm they would pass on the cut in prices, with a 6p decrease in petrol and diesel.
This however represents only a fraction in the price rises seen since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.
The 5p cut in fuel duty was blasted by UK motoring groups as a ‘drop in the ocean’ for hard-pressed drivers as pump prices continue to hit record levels.
From this weekend it is believed the groups’ focus will shift towards ‘mass daily protests’ in London to be led by Extinction Rebellion activists.
The campaign group, also known as XR, will hold its latest ‘rebellions’ from April 9 starting at Hyde Park and then spreading throughout the capital.
Protests are also planned in Birmingham and Southampton and ‘non-violent direct action training’ will be given.
XR spokesman Andrew Smith said: ‘From Saturday April 9 we will meet at 10am in Hyde Park every day. We will be easy to find, we will be easy to join, we will be more disruptive than ever, and we will be impossible to ignore.
Just Stop Oil activists take part in a protest outside the Esso Birmingham fuel terminal on the first day of protests at 10 oil terminals across the country
‘We’re expecting huge numbers from the 9th. In London we won’t have pink boats, we won’t have pink tables, we will just have people power.
‘In the tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, we will disrupt business as usual until the Government and big business make change. We need everyone to join us.’
He continued: ‘We’re looking at more mass participation-style events, rather than small kind of scattergun actions which rebellions have previously consisted of. We’re looking at mass participation, which are easy to join.
‘We’re asking the public to step up and join us. We know at the moment that across the country, people are feeling kind of disenfranchised with how they’ve been treated by the Government.
‘The energy crisis is really starting to hit home on people, and people really want us to step up into a space where their voice is heard.
‘We’re offering them the space where they can come and participate and join with us.
‘Every morning we’ll be offering non-violent direct action training, where we will encourage people to step up and be empowered to take action with us and speak out against Government inaction. As a response to that, the actions will feel and look very different to previous rebellions.