The manufactured petrol crisis of 2012

It currently feels like a week doesn’t pass without the government being critisised for one thing or another – this weeks event is the first to actually affect me.

So the drivers of the petrol tankers in the UK have voted to go on strike, this is their choice and I am sure they have their reasons as anyone who votes to go on strike does. The union has to announce the strike date with 7 days notice, again this sounds perfectly reasonable, everyone has 7 days to plan and prepare for the strike and they get to exercise their legal right to strike, right?

Well, it turns out that if and when they do strike the impact is going to be much greater thanks to the government effectively engineering a petrol crisis with such skill that I am sure critics of the government are absolutely adoring it.

The basics of the issue are that a cabinet minister came out yesterday and declared that people should make sure they fill up soon in-case of a shortage and that it might be a great idea to fill a few jerry cans to store too. Really? Firstly there isn’t any kind of shortage due yet so that’s a ridiculous suggestion this early on, especially since they have been insisting all along that the army will jump in to continue deliveries if a strike did go ahead. Add to that the fact that there are actually laws surrounding the purchase and storage of fuel in separate containers, which recommending people to fill and store a couple of would probably break.

The PM then came along to support his minister by emphasising that it is sensible for people to plan ahead, to prepare for a shortage whilst at the same time repeating those endearing words from Corporal Jones;

“Don’t Panic! – But seriously, go fill your car now”

How ridiculous, but then suddenly I find myself being dragged into this, I had no intention of panic buying anything but suddenly I hear on the news that forecourts are running out and there are massive queues.

But I need to keep my car going! I have to go places and enjoy the weather!

Five minutes later I’m sat queuing for fuel. So the spiral begins, as soon as the initial reactionary people get down to the forecourts to panic buy, the more moderate people who chose to ignore the bad advice presented by the government suddenly find themselves in a situation where if they sit idly by they may not be able to keep their cars running.

So if they do strike next week? Well the forecourts will already have been hammered, supplies will suddenly reduce and we are left with the perfect storm for a fuel crisis.

And that is how you perfectly engineer a real fuel crisis.

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