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Fuel shortages in the UK?

vic wrote:

There is not a lot of extra sales , where would that go exactly, into home storage, and what amount then ?

It has been explained numerous times already – it goes in the fuel tanks of the cars.

Let’s assume a very simple world. All fuel tanks have 50 litres capacity. Everyone drives around until they are down to 10 litres, and then fill it up to full. These 40 litres last 20 days, so average demand is 40 litres per car every 20 days, or 2 litres per car per day.

So a million cars need 2 million litres per day, and 50,000 cars fuel up every day, taking 40 litres each, and each car has an average of 30 litres of fuel in its tank.

Now somebody says the famous words “there is no need to panic”, and everyone decides to fill up when they are down to 30 litres, not 10. That means all of the sudden, 500,000 additional cars want to fill up immediately – the half of the car population that is “half empty” or less. They can fill up only 30 litres on average (min 20, max 39.999), but the immediate demand is now 15 million litres.

So ten times as many fuel stops, and 7.5 times as much fuel demand – mayhem ensues.

After some panic, the fuel stations catch up with the demand.

Now, everyone fills up 20 litres when they are down to 30 litres, and they have to re-fuel every 10 days. Total demand is back to 2 million litres per day, but people refuel twice as often. Each car has now an average of 40 litres fuel in its tank. That is where all that fuel went.

Then they get tired of this nonsense, demand drops for a while until they are back to their old habits of refuelling when hitting 10 litres.

So it is clear that a shift in mass behaviour can cause significant shortages – in reality, this is worse because people who do not fill up to full every time have more additional capacity in the tanks, so the demand spike can be much larger.

Biggin Hill

@Cobalt good analysis but the shortage in the M40 corridor and Central London has now lasted more than a week? Although a few stations have some diesel pumps working.

Fortunately I go to work on a push bike and while I haven’t bought petrol in a month, I still have half a tank. Modern cars driven at the 1970’s 55 mph get an incredible 60 mpg.

Oxford (EGTK)

LeSving wrote:

Let’s not forget that the two richest countries in Europe, the two countries with most satisfied citizens are Norway and Switzerland, the top of the pops so to speak.

The most satisfied? Not hardly, at least not here. They bitch like everyone else about politics and all that comes with it, many think of leaving for greener grounds only to find that they are hard to come by. Financially your assessment may be correct but in every other aspect, no way. I think the only reason Switzerland does not see a mass exodus is both the financial aspect and the fact that parliament can’t muck it up too much because of the direct democracy. That gives a bit of security which not man other places have and it is essential enough to keep people from going away.

LeSving wrote:

The corona situation has really shown how dependent we are on foreign labor.

Not only labour but also produce as lots of countries have sent all their production to China and other low wage countries.

LeSving wrote:

I can’t imagine EU or Norway/Switzerland would do anything but welcome those people with open arms.

Let’s make one thing clear: In Switzerland NOBODY is really welcome. They are accepted as a necessity, but welcome? No way. You can live here for decades and will find one day that you are shot in the back by people you know and thought respected you on the simple fact that you are not from here, “here” in this context being the village you live in. This goes even for people who move between regions here, let alone foreigners. Almost all foreigners who live here are subject to resentment and often open discrimination, no matter if they have the Swiss passport since decades. Job applications are read until they see your birthplace and discarded unless you are lucky and the guy who reads them is someone with similar roots.

People can be accepted as a necessity, but welcome? Nope.

LeSving wrote:

Without Swedes, Polacks and Germans in the health sector, it grinds slowly but surely to a halt. Without people from eveywhere in fact, the elderly care grinds to a halt. Without Polacs, the Baltic states and China, pretty much all of construction work will stop. Not to mention hotels and restaurants. Most of these jobs are not poorly paid jobs, there simply are too many jobs for Norwegians to fill up.

I would not say that there are too many jobs to fill in this country, but quite a few Swiss these days simply don’t want to do them, so they import people who will. They in turn are willing to work for a pittance, which presses the whole wage level down, so even more so locals don’t want those jobs.

I guess this is not different in the UK. Yet one of the main arguments for brexit was to keep out exactly these foreign workers of EU origin, primarily from Eastern Europe. Well, yes, that can be done but it will take time to retrain and to revise the way the workplace market works.

Whether that is a good thing, who knows. I personally think it is a disgrace that in so called “rich” countries its inhabitants are too squeamish to work the jobs they think is above them. Sorry, they are wrong, they just have more money to pay their kids great educations and in connection with dumbing down the schooling system think just because they somehow scraped a MA someplace they are now something better. A great many are not, they are just nincompoops with a title which allows them to cash in big and ruin great companies.

I guess one way of stopping this trend would be to make accessibility to higher education a lot harder, not financially, but academically and stop the obviously unqualified from spending taxpayers money on educating these imbeciles and get them to work on the level of their intellect. And judging by the way the people in this country act, a lot of them should never go above the jobs they now think often well educated people from the East Block are hired to do, because a doctor there earns less than a cleaning lady here. So I don’t think that there are too few Brits to do the jobs the Eastern Europeans did for them, it is just that quite a few have become jobsworths someplace instead of doing a honest days work. Kick out half of the desk wheenies and get them to learn a honest profession would surely turn up sufficient workers again instead of an overpopulation of pseudoeducated nitwits.

The result may well be that if those foreign workers are stopped from going for minocre jobs just for the cash that they would put their own countries in order, instead of the brain drain happening there. If wages in those countries would be worth working for, not many would leave their home countries.

Last Edited by Mooney_Driver at 02 Oct 20:22
LSZH, Switzerland
Cobalt, you may be right with your calculations but only till all tanks are filled up. So after one week or so no more shortage will be expected because drivers first have to use up fuel for next filling. Still they only use 2 liters per day in your example so it will take longer till they get down to 10 liters or whatever they chose. So the weekly demand will be back to normal no matter when drivers chose to have a fillup. Where did you get extra 500 000 cars suddenly, cars that almost never get used, sitting in garages like vintage types ? Sorry, looks to me like tryimg to find all sorts of excuses for chaotic management – in various places . . . Vic

Mooney_Driver wrote:

To me it is frightening to what extent media today have totally departed their primary mission, namely to spread facts and news, in favour of political partisanship, propaganda and outright lies with the only goal to generate public outrage and through it clicks. This has to be stopped. If it is not, sooner or later we shall end up in a situation not unlike portrayed in the 1997 Bond movie “Tomorrow never dies” where a media mogul tries to kindle a war between superpowers to be able to report first hand and cash in on it. Unfortunately, this kind of “reporting” has done ferocious damage in recent years and is increasing to do so.

This is from a few pages back, (I have just been catching up on the thread), but at least one real-life “media mogul”, William Randolph Hearst, actually did “kindle a war”:
The Spanish-American war of 1898

He lives on in our memories as “Citizen Kane” :-)

Booker EGTB, White Waltham EGLM

Cobalt wrote:

It has been explained numerous times already – it goes in the fuel tanks of the cars.

That’s only a wild assumption. The main assumption is people only fill up the tank to 20 liters or so, and they only fill 20 liters from almost empty. It could easily be the opposite. They fill it up full, then always fill it up again when they have used 20 liters. As for myself, I never bother filling up my diesel car before the low light start shining. Then I fill it up completely. Now, IF I envisioned a shortage of fuel, I would fill it up no matter how much was left. If everybody was like me, the average would be to fill it up when it was half full. About 25-30 liters or thereabout. That’s not terrible far from 20 liters IMO. My electric car is always “filled up”, charged in my garage

I don’t really see how this all in itself could make a shortage of fuel, unless the fuel level at the tanks in the gas station was very low to begin with, and some had run dry. Filling them up should only take the few hours it takes to get a fuel delivery there with a truck. Obviously the fuel delivery is stretched thin to start with, barely operating according to the demand at all. Otherwise the average tank level in all gas stations would be 1/2, not run empty within hours.

It could also be that all gas stations have super tiny tanks, thus the need for refills are very high to start wit. Lots of tank trucks needed with an equal huge amount of drivers needed.


Off_Field wrote:

Empty shelves in Brussels. Brussels Times link Bit difficult to blame that on Brexit too.

We currently have a global supply chain disaster. Next week (maybe already now) the petrol panic will be over. But factories will still send workers home for weeks to months because they don’t have the parts needed to get the production going on. Construction don’t even start due to lack of building materials. Last month I needed to replace my refrigerator. Some models had lead times of 6 to 8 months and I was very lucky to get one after only 3 weeks. Depending on where it happens it will be either caused either by Covid or by Brexit.

EDQH, Germany

Mooney_Driver wrote:

Let’s make one thing clear: In Switzerland NOBODY is really welcome

I think we safely can say that people have always moved around for jobs. Good times at one particular place attracts people, poor times some decades later makes people move to other places. The level of education and your “position” is on average reflected by the wealth of your parents, more so than your intellect, ability or ambitions. Success (no matter how that is measured) is hard work and lucky circumstances. These things are constant I think.


DavidS wrote:

This is from a few pages back, (I have just been catching up on the thread), but at least one real-life “media mogul”, William Randolph Hearst, actually did “kindle a war”:

Thanks for that, just read up on it. I was not really aware of this, other than Citizen Kane was based on Hirst.

Interesting the mention of Pulitzer… kind of ironic that the Pulitzer Prize today stands for excellence in journalism while the man who it is named for was part of this propaganda war with Hearst and therefore one of the “founders” of yellow press.

LSZH, Switzerland

LeSving wrote:

I think we safely can say that people have always moved around for jobs. Good times at one particular place attracts people, poor times some decades later makes people move to other places.

People go where the money is. That is no secret.

The often untold stories behind that however is that while the money may be better, the move away from the natural habitat has a price which is often swept under the carpet, but nevertheless is a social problem. Lots of people never really adapt to their new country and form a diaspora of home sick economical refugees, who keep dreaming of the home lands they “lost” as living there is not possible or rather comes with economic hardship.

The consequence of the free movement of people is that these countries experience a brain drain in which only the least qualified stay at home whereas everyone else goes of to greener pastures. This causes a dumbing down of the population to a degree that can quite easily become a problem eventually. The sorry lot which remains often enough will turn the country into a dog’s breakfast and is unable and unwilling to lift the economy out of the low level and gradually increase their own economy.

At the same time, if people with good education and relatively high education jobs are paid less than a skilled mechanic or handymen, it is clear they are looking for economically better grounds, but end up working jobs way below their qualifications in the new country but better money. Obviously this does not help job satisfaction while it improves finances. So lot of people become violently homesick but labour on for decades to flee home at every opportunity.

If this kind of work migration would be stopped, as it currently is in Britain due to Brexit, on a broader level, I think chances of the countries of origin to improve to a level which makes emigration unnecessary would in the end be a benefit for everyone.

LeSving wrote:

The level of education and your “position” is on average reflected by the wealth of your parents, more so than your intellect, ability or ambitions.

That is hugely different in different countries. I agree that kids of educated people will more likely become educated themselves, as they grow up in an educated environment. Wealth of parents is a factor where education is expensive, which is not everywhere. Wealth is a much larger factor in places like the US, where people save all their lifes to put kids through college, whereas it is less so in places like Switzerland, where education is all but free, at least where tuition fees are concerned up to university level. It is quite rare in countries like this that kids get robbed of their education because they have to go to work or take an apprenticeship because of lack of funds by their parents.

And clearly, I do not advocate outpricing education, which is a gross waste of talent. The problem I see in Switzerland and elsewhere is that the academic level necessary to get college/university access diploma such as “abitur” or “maturity” is way too low, which then leads to a surplus of students who are clearly not gifted enough for studies. This starts even earlier, where access to high school/gymnasium has become too much dumbed down out of the scare of discriminating lesser gifted people. Well, the fact is, that not everyone is a genius and quite a lot totally useless academics who have scraped through university with a degree of sorts would have been much better off learning a trade they like or are gifted for. Parents today snub learned professions in favour of university education, often totally disregarding or having a very “optimistic” outlook in their kids abilities.

In the context of this thread, being a lorry driver in Britain looks like a quite lucrative job with up to 60k £ yearly, which I understand is quite a substantial salary. But apparently there is a shortage of people willing to go that way, also because cheap labour takes jobs and halfs salaries. Well, this obviously can and is being changed but it will take time to reverse the process of de-facto outsourcing British jobs to foreigners who are prepared to work for less. Now that they are gone, they will need to be replaced and they won’t until they get attractive salaries. Chicken and egg really.

LSZH, Switzerland
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