Oil crisis: how five more liters of gasoline crippled the country | UK News


The UK has experienced several temporary shortages of basic necessities since the start of the pandemic.

In recent weeks, disruption of normally highly efficient supply chain systems has contributed to fuel shortages on the forecourt across the country.

Data shows that a rapid change in customer demand – panic buying – has led to a sharp decline in fuel stocks held at gas stations.

Normally, independent courtyards operate with their storage tanks about 40% full.

But at some point during the crisis weekend, fuel levels fell to 16.6% on average, according to EdgePetrol, a provider of real-time data to independent forecourt operators.

Logistics experts suggest that bottlenecks in the supply chain, such as a shortage of truck and tanker drivers, prevented a rapid restoration of stock levels.

The industry claims that service stations in the UK have built their business model around what are called ‘just in time’ (JIT) systems.

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Created in the 1940s by Toyota to make cars, this practice has been rolled out globally in virtually every industry.

Companies receive their raw materials as close as possible to the time they are needed. The shorter storage time reduces their cost and makes the products cheaper for consumers.

But efficiency and savings also increase the fragility of the supply chain.

“Just-in-time supply chains work well when there is certainty about customer demand,” says Mark Johnson, professor of operations management at Warwick Business School. “But whenever you have a change in demand, as we see now, coupled with a change in supply due to labor shortages, there are fundamental issues for the supply chains. . “

The temporary closure of a large carbon dioxide supplier was a source of concern almost immediately to people in the soft drink industry. Companies in this sector maintain sufficient CO2 reserves to last only a few days.

Likewise, gas stations have developed a business model of restocking just before they dry out. Some squares, operated mainly by supermarkets, are restocked several times a day.

Supermarkets sell 45% of the fuel in the UK. So far, they have not released any data on their fuel supply levels.

On average, every time we refuel, we buy 24.5 liters from independent gas stations. But as panic buying took hold, that rose 22% to 29.82 liters, according to data from EdgePetrol.

The relatively small increase (just over 5 liters) in demand for an average person, coupled with a near tripling of the number of customers in a very short period of time, has resulted in shortages throughout the system.

Data from Google-owned navigation company Waze shows that from September 22 to September 29, there was a 190% increase in the number of people driving to gas stations in the UK.

Ru Roberts, UK Country Manager at Waze, said: “As the fuel supply disruption continues into the second week, we are still seeing bumper-to-bumper traffic in. petrol stations.

“In some areas, speeds have slowed down to 3 km / h as drivers line up to fill their cars.”

So can the UK increase its resilience and prevent such a mismatch between supply and demand in the future?

Reducing supply chain fragility means companies will have to give up some just-in-time efficiency and keep more inventory.

“If companies start holding more shares again, it will increase their operating costs, with knock-on effects on consumer prices,” said Dr Anthony Flynn of Cardiff Business School.

The Data and forensics team is a multi-purpose unit dedicated to providing transparent Sky News journalism. We collect, analyze and visualize data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite imagery, social media, and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling, we aim to better explain the world while showing how our journalism is done.

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