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British gov't suspends regulations to deliver fuel to empty stations

Empty pumps are seen at a BP station in London, Britain, on Friday. Officials said Britain has plenty of fuel in reserves and at refineries, but sporadic panic buying and supply chain disruptions are causing some stations to run out in certain areas. Photo by Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE
Empty pumps are seen at a BP station in London, Britain, on Friday. Officials said Britain has plenty of fuel in reserves and at refineries, but sporadic panic buying and supply chain disruptions are causing some stations to run out in certain areas. Photo by Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE

Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The British government has temporarily suspended competition regulations in the fuel industry in an effort to better coordinate deliveries to stations that have run out of gasoline due to issues in the supply chain.

Another issue adding to the fuel shortage is some panic buying in locations across Britain, government officials said late Sunday.

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British business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng agreed to suspend the Competition Act after a meeting with oil companies and retailers.

Known as the Downstream Oil Protocol, the move allows fuel distributors in Britain to work together to keep tanks at fueling stations supplied.

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Officials said Britain has plenty of fuel in reserves and at refineries, but sporadic panic buying and supply chain disruptions are causing some stations to run out in certain areas.

"While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains," Kwarteng said in a statement. "This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimized."

The Petrol Retailers Association said it could take days for all gas stations to return to normal.

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British environmental secretary George Eustice urged drivers not to buy fuel if they don't need it.

"The cause of these current problems is that panic-buying episode, and the most important thing is for people to start buying petrol as they normally would," Eustice said, according to The Guardian.

There were reports Monday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was considering using the army to help deliver fuel to stations. Eustice said there are no plans yet to involve the military.

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