In Britain, motorists have been ignoring pleas not to “panic-buy” petrol and diesel after demonstrators began protesting at oil depots over high prices. Drivers fearing shortages have been buying up to a week’s worth of fuel in a single day to prevent being caught up in a repeat of protests that crippled much of the country five years ago. There have been angry scenes at many service stations forced to close or struggling to cope with demand.
“There’s been some fighting over there, it’s really sad isn’t it? I need to fill up, I have no petrol,” complained one motorist. “People are very angry. Everyone’s panicking. They’re not happy they have to wait ten or 15 minutes to fill up,” said one petrol station attendant. Despite the long queues in places, fears of shortages have proved unfounded as no refineries are blockaded. Police say they will ensure supplies are not cut off. Britain’s Road Haulage Association has told its members not to take part in the protests and police say they will ensure supplies are not cut off.
The cost of a litre of petrol climbed above one pound in some areas last week after the price of oil on world markets hit a record of more than 70-dollars a barrel. Britain’s Finance Minister Gordon Brown said the problem needed a global solution and urged OPEC to pump more oil. France, meanwhile, has announced tax breaks of 40-million euros for its truckers and farmers, and warned oil companies that it is ready to get tough to protect other consumers.