Cut in supplies leads to fear of panic buying

Motorists in the South East of England are being urged not to panic buy fuel this week as a major oil refinery went into administration.

The Coryton refinery in Essex halted its supplies when news filtered through that its parent company based in Switzerland had collapsed and brought down the plant with it. The refinery provides approximately 20% of the fuel used by drivers in London and the South East and immediately there were fears that motorists, who are already paying out more for car insurance and fuel than at this time last year, would panic buy and send the price of diesel and petrol in the capital to a record high.

Charles Hendry, minister for energy and climate change, asked drivers to be sensible and just go about their normal business, saying “We don’t want everybody to go out and get it (fuel) tonight, because that clearly wouldn’t be helpful. People need to be completely confident that if they go about their business as normal then there is completely enough fuel available and that BP and Shell have been going to great lengths to make sure that is the case. There is the capacity in some of the other refineries in the UK. Companies like BP and Shell, who are the main buyers of the output from Coryton, have already made short-term arrangements to make sure that they get the fuel from other sources. We have spare import capacity so we can bring extra fuel in as necessary.”

However, garages were already reporting running out of supplies yesterday evening and there were queues at many forecourt early this morning as commuters set out on their journeys.

There are fears that closure of the plant could lead to the loss of 1,000 jobs, although administrators reported that the plant was still refining oil but not sending it out. They also confirmed they had already been contacted by interested parties and there was hope that the business would be saved.

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