Fears for online deliveries as fuel is diverted from business fleets to forecourts – Telegraph.co.uk

Fuel is being diverted from large companies to garage forecourts in a move that threatens to disrupt online deliveries, The Telegraph has learnt.

Bosses across Britain’s fuel terminals are under orders to prioritise motorists over major firms as ministers scramble to avoid angry scenes at the petrol pumps.

Industry sources claimed that government officials had instructed bosses running Britain’s network of fuel terminals to send tankers heading for large companies to garages and service stations instead.

However, senior Whitehall sources insisted that any decisions to divert supplies had been made by the fuel firms themselves and not on government orders.

Companies including major online retailers are underwood to have had fuel deliveries cancelled in recent days. Experts warned against attempts to bring the crisis to a swift end by “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

It came as Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, announced that the Government was deploying a “reserve tanker fleet” of 80 vehicles driven by civilians to boost deliveries. Military troops will also be driving tankers within “the next couple of days”, he added.

Ministers are now increasingly optimistic that the worst of the crisis is over, with government data showing that more fuel was delivered to forecourts on Wednesday than sold for the first time since mass panic buying began last Friday. 

At the height of the crisis, 1,800 forecourts had reported at least one grade of fuel running low. However, this has also fallen significantly in the past 48 hours to just 790. The Petrol Retailers Association said there were “encouraging signs” with only 27pc of sites running out on Wednesday compared with two-thirds on Sunday.

However, Matthew Lesh from the Adam Smith Institute think tank warned that the strategy of prioritising fuel towards garage forecourts could backfire.

“Robbing Peter to pay Paul won’t solve the fuel crisis,” he said. “The Government should be extremely careful trying to manage complex supply chains, deciding who gets priority or encouraging fuel to be redirected from commercial to personal usage.

“This might help address a short-term PR issue but could deepen the crisis by creating new commercial shortages.”

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