Panic shoppers sparked chaos and anger at the pumps yesterday, depriving even emergency services of much-needed fuel.
Some drivers filled their cars and then produced a series of jerry cans to refuel.
Other motorists lined up for hours after ignoring calls to refuel for fun.
There have been reports of brawls on the forecourt, ambulances queuing for fuel, and skirmishes on the road caused by queued cars.
Some doctors have canceled shifts because they did not have fuel to get to work.
Others feared that they would not be able to answer ambulance calls because they might be missing.
Some garages have imposed Â£ 30 limits on recharging, while drivers have signaled the closure of motorway services.
And fears that Britain’s second-largest oil refinery might be in trouble have raised further concerns.
Fuel itself is NOT in short supply, but tanker drivers and delivery people are.
And although the government is presenting plans today to grant 5,000 temporary visas to foreign drivers, experts have warned that the crisis affecting gas stations and supplies on store shelves could last for weeks or even months.
The car craze has erupted despite the fact that only 100 of the 8,350 service stations in the UK have closed due to shortages.
Disturbing reports have come from ambulance services, doctors and police forces across the country.
Paramedic student Jennifer Ward, 21, works for Medicare EMS, which provides 999 frontline assistance services to the Eastern England ambulance service.
She drove to five gas stations before finally getting diesel for her ambulance in Chelmsford, Essex. Jennifer said: “I could be sent anywhere and maybe I wouldn’t have had fuel.”
A paramedic on leave said she waited more than an hour to buy fuel to get to work – only to be turned back when stocks ran out, with 10 other drivers still ahead of her.
The woman also said a colleague stood in line for more than an hour in a first aid vehicle to refuel his car.
She said: “The bottom line: he was not available to take care of very sick patients.”
The South-Central Ambulance Service, which covers Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, said crews had been held back “for some time” by traffic jams at petrol stations.
The police had to be called in to manage the queues in certain squares and avoid clashes.
On Friday night, two men clashed at an Esso garage in Sidlesham, West Sussex.
Witness James Curry said: âThere was still diesel and gasoline available, but a few gentlemen were concerned that some people would take the diesel they needed.
âThere was a bit of shouting before the punches were thrown and there was a fight. “
Police said drivers were lining up for fuel “all over South Wales”.
A force spokesperson said: “Keeping highways clear is essential for emergency services, … obstructing them poses a risk to public safety.”
In Lincolnshire, police urged drivers: ‘We ask motorists to use common sense when lining up at a petrol station. If it’s too long, consider coming back at another time.
Motorists who filled up spare cans were slammed by groups of motorists.
RAC media chief Simon Williams said: âPeople who selfishly take it in cans could deprive drivers of the fuel they need to get to work or do important jobs. There have clearly been panic buying which is going to cause more problems than necessary. “
AA chief Edmund King said: âWe were in talks with ministers last night and talked to big fuel companies and we can reiterate that there is no supply problem at all. The source. What exacerbated it was the people who refuel when theyâ¦ don’t need it.
Sainsbury’s, which closed 20 gas stations on Friday, said yesterday some sites would reopen after deliveries. BP has closed 20 garages and is rationing fuel to up to 100 more. The EG group, which has 341 gas stations, has a limit of Â£ 30.
ExxonMobil, the oil company behind Esso, said the forecourts it operates at some Tesco stores have been affected.
But Tesco said it was not rationing fuel.
Some drivers on the highways were shocked to see âservices closedâ signs. A woman returning from France said: “It was very worrying.”
The Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire is in urgent talks with HMRC over a Â£ 356million VAT bill.
Stanlow, which supplies one sixth of UK road fuel, is owned by tycoon brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia, through their company Essar Oil UK. The company, which employs 1,700 people, said: “Positive discussions are underway.”
There was hilarity amid the chaos as the BBC sent Phil McCann to cover the crisis. Breakfast host Jon Kay said: “We can go see our reporter Phil McCann and someone on Twitter Phil suggesting your name isn’t the bestâ¦ because you can’t fill your box. . ”
Social media reacted and McCann posted: âThere are worse reasons to be trending on Twitter. “