Fuel strikes: last-ditch talks begin in bid to avert panic buying

Times Online -- Last-ditch talks to avert a strike by 641 tanker drivers who supply one in 10 UK petrol stations have begun at a secret location.

Despite pleas from Downing Sreet for motorists to stay calm and refrain from panic buying, industry experts believe the move will backfire and that in the next 48 hours before Friday’s 6am deadline for strike action, motorists in parts of the country will rush to the pumps.

There is particular concern that motorists with almost full tanks could exacerbate problems by topping up with 10 or 15 extra litres instead of buying normally.

It was this pattern of buying which caused a run on petrol supplies in Scotland, when strike action hit Grangemouth oil refinery at the end of April.

One option might be to introduce a minimum sale of £30 to £40 at forecourts to deter panic buyers - but such a move is unlikely unless a strike is called and there is a nationwide run at the pumps.

At present, however, ministers are not keen to introduce emergency powers to ration fuel and are hoping a deal will be reached to call off action.

However, there is concern in Whitehall that if the strike goes ahead, other fuel protesters, militant hauliers and farmers, might join in pickets of refineries and distribution depots which could affect fuel supplies to other retail outlets.