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Panic-buying motorists are priming the pump of Britain's fuel shortage.

Predictions about empty pumps scared UK drivers into guzzling up gas all weekend, with drivers draining petrol stations that were already running low amid spotty shipments and soaring prices.

Fuel For Naught

The UK's Petrol Retailers Association reported that two-thirds of its 5,500 member stations had run totally dry. Demand is expected to ease in the next few days, but the government is now preparing military tankers to help ferry more black gold around the country.

You might say the panic-buying frenzy threw fuel on the fire of Europe's gas and energy crisis — if there was any to spare:

  • International oil prices hit a three-year high yesterday, with the benchmark Brent crude pushing above $80 a barrel, while the cost of gas in Europe has doubled since mid-August. The culprits? Decreased US shale production, Hurricane Ida's disruptions to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and generally high consumption, analysts told the Financial Times.
  • The UK is short roughly 100,000 truck drivers to deliver the fuel it does have, with labor shortages blamed on the pandemic and Brexit.

Canary in the Coal Mine? President Biden recently called for an investigation into America's rising gas prices, which are currently up about 50% since January. Meanwhile, Germany's electricity prices have more than doubled since February.

Winter of Discontent: "[Prices] could go much higher if the weather is as cool this winter as some people predict," Andrew Gillick at energy consulting firm Enverus told FT. Experts also forecast rising demand as post-Covid travel increases. So it might be a good year to consider taking Amtrak home for the holidays — if that wasn't also literally coming off the rails.