Sales of road fuel in the UK slowed while stock levels continued to recover in the week ending Oct. 10, after panic buying at the end of September drained fuel inventories at service stations in Europe's second-biggest economy to a record low, according to data from the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
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Sales of gasoline and diesel in the week to Oct. 10 averaged 15,173 liters per fuel station, according to the official data released Oct. 14, down from 18,125 in the previous week and a surge to 21,427 in the last week of September.
The data shows the UK's road fuel sales spiked to double the previous average sales per site on Sept. 24, a day after news broke that a small number of UK pumps had run dry due to a long-running shortage of tanker drivers to restock retail networks. At one point, up to two-thirds of UK sites had run dry of fuel supplies as motorists queued at pumps to fill up their tanks.
On Sept. 25, the average fuel stock level at UK pumps slumped to a record low of just 15% of capacity, according to the data, compared with around 45% at the start of the year. With fuel sales since slowing, UK fuel stocks at filling stations have recovered to average 37% on Oct 10, according to the data.
The data also shows average deliveries to filling stations over the last week have been just under 18,000 liters per site, down 10% on the higher levels of deliveries the previous week but broadly in line with average volumes.
UK fuel demand has remained little changed, around 90% of pre-COVID levels since mid-2021, and hit a post-pandemic high of 97% of pre-lockdown levels in the first week of August.
With average sales dropping back after the bout of panic buying, however, average road fuel sales in the UK stood at 86% of pre-COVID levels in the week ending Oct. 10, the BEIS data shows, with diesel and gasoline at 92% and 96% of pre-COVID sales, respectively.
The UK's Petrol Retailers Association said Oct. 12 that road fuel supply shortages in London and Southeast England "remain serious", despite a drop in the number of the UK's service stations that are without fuel in the region to 10% of the retail fuel network.
Road transport accounts for more than half of oil demand in the UK, with gasoline and diesel meeting around 98% of the transport energy needs. The country's gasoline sales averaged about 300,000 b/d in 2019, while diesel sales averaged about 550,000 b/d, according to estimates by S&P Global Platts Analytics.
The UK's total oil demand is expected to recover fully to around 1.55 million b/d by year-end 2021, according to Platts Analytics.