Is this really sensible No 10?

Motorists should consider stockpiling fuel for strike, suggests No 10
Motorists should consider stockpiling petrol in case a strike by tanker drivers disrupts supplies, the Government has suggested.


There\’s a possibility that this would actually cause the shortage that it is hoped can be averted.

It depends upon the relative sizes of the two diferent storage systems. For it is said that the fuel tanks of all cars on the American roads hold more fuel than the wholesale distribution netowrk itself holds. So, if every car goes and fills its tank to the brim then we exhaust those wholesale reserves.

Now I don\’t know if that little factoid is actually true or not: but it would be very interesting if it were, wouldn\’t it? For it would mean that No 10 calling for stockpiling will create the very shortage we wish to avoid.

10 thoughts on “Is this really sensible No 10?”

  1. Bank customers should consider stockpiling money for bank run, suggests No 10

    Bank customers should consider stockpiling banknotes in case a collapse by mortgage brokers causes a run on banks, the Government has suggested.

  2. Tanker drivers will, doubtless, get overtime in replenishing the depleted stocks of petrol stations; thus they will not lose out too badly.

    The whole issue is really about publicity for a grievance, and the worry caused to government with the threat.

    If that publicity causes people to take action before the strike (and which of us was not planning that anyway – at least to some extent), surely the desired effect has happened. And also, perhaps, to drive less during the strike period.

    As has been pointed out, the government is helping with the publicity.

    And tanker drivers may actually prefer some of their overtime before the strike. After all, if the army is called in, there will be less overtime after the strike.

    Best regards

  3. Back of envelope – 30 million vehicles, average 50 litres per tank is 155 0000 000 litres, or 10 million barrels worth.

    Probably less than the wholesale distribution network holds (if you include stuff waiting around in refineries) and definitely a tiny, trivial proportion of the strategic reserve most countries hold.

  4. Not to mention how busy the fire brigade will be dealing with the fires/explosions caused by the improper storage of all the stockpiled petrol.

  5. The actual remarks (one can’t trust a subhead) were directed mainly at businesses. It sounds to me like code for “please help us defeat these bolshie trade unionists”.

  6. The US Bureau of transportation statistics reckon approx 250 million registered vehicles. So at an average of 100litres per tank (allowing for larger US cars and trucks) I calculate this at ~ 157 million barrels.

    In comparison the US strategic reserve was 695 million barrels at the end of February, although this is a mix of crudes not refined products.

  7. The Pedant-General

    Actually, unless there is a general and noticeable reduction in the use of fuel by actual road users, the throughput on the system will not change.

    There will therefore be a reduction in the overall stock levels in the complete system (wholesale, forecourts + tanks) to the tune of the number of tanker trips lost during the strike. It’s unavoidable.

    this will have to be made up before or afterwards whatever happens.

    The question is whether No 10 can arrange it so that people see the disruption during the strike when the bad press might be able to be spun onto the strikers, or afterwards, when it might be spun as being the fault of the thieving planet killing oil companies.

    No 10 would presumably prefer the former.

  8. JamesV (#3) – the “stuff waiting around in refineries” or the “strategic reserves” aren’t much use in a tanker driver’s strike, where the problem is in the distribution network.

  9. But presumably the fuel tanks of the motorists aren’t all empty at the critical point – indeed very few would be really empty.

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