'Running on fumes': Petrol shortages see people compare UK to Lebanon

'Running on fumes': Petrol shortages see people compare UK to Lebanon
The UK has seen petrol shortages and rationing, with the situation compared to Lebanon which is undergoing a major energy crisis.
3 min read
27 September, 2021
The energy crisis in the UK has seen many petrol stations temporarily close [Getty]

With Brits queuing for hours to fill up their cars due to petrol shortages, the situation in the UK has been compared to Lebanon which has suffered its own crippling energy crisis in recent months.

Across the UK, panic buying and a shortage of HGV drivers have led petrol station forecourts to be sealed off with 90 percent of pumps now running dry.

In an effort to halt the run on fuel and limit the effects on other sectors - such as healthcare and supermarkets - petrol has been rationed at many stations, but the crisis has only worsened.

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson now considering calling in the army to deliver fuel, the state of affairs has led some to highlight the devastating fuel crisis in Lebanon, where gun battles and deadly brawls outside petrol stations have been witnessed.

"On the weekend before my flight to Beirut: Fuel shortages causing queues at UK petrol stations, Bojo considering using army to supply petrol stations, 10-hour power outage in my building. Is the Universe training me for my stay in Lebanon?" tweeted social media user, Yara.

Despite the comparisons, the roots of the UK and Lebanon's fuel crises are very different. The plunging Lebanese lira has meant that importing fuel has become almost unaffordable, with people unable to fill up their cars and homes being submerged in darkness for much of the day.

Cuts to subsidies - including petrol - have only worsened the suffering for millions of Lebanese, where 90 percent are living in "extreme poverty" and 20-hour blackouts have become the norm.

In the UK there is no petrol shortage. A lack of drivers - blamed partly on Brexit - and panic buying have instead contributed to the crisis.

BBC correspondent Nafiseh Kohnavard said: "Long fuel queues in London have led to road blocking… I'm sure they do it just for me so I wouldn't miss Lebanon much while I’m away! There is no shortage of petrol or diesel in the UK but there are concerns about deliveries due to a lack of lorry drivers thanks to Brexit."

In Lebanon, the desperate situation was highlighted last week when a Syrian man in Lebanon died after swallowing petrol he was siphoning from his vehicle's fuel tank.

While Brits have mocked those in the UK seen filling fuel cans at petrol stations and scuffles at pumps, there is the real danger that the petrol crisis could also cost lives.

The British Medical Association said on Monday that the shortages mean there is now "a very real chance" NHS staff won't be able to do their jobs.

Such a dilemma has seen Lebanese share messages of support with people in the UK.

"We're not laughing in Lebanon - we know what it feels like to queue for hours for petrol - although finding it incredible the UK is in this situation - Brexit consequences. Let’s hope there won’t be shortages of other things in future," tweeted Sirine GJ #justiceforBeirut.