A booming online trade in jerry cans and petrol containers has arisen as the UK continues to grapple with fuel shortages caused by a lack of lorry drivers and panic buying.
With a small number of petrol stations temporarily closed and long queues stationed outside some of those that have remained open, members of the public have taken to selling petrol receptacles on sites such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree.
Analysis by NationalWorld found 212 cans had been listed on Facebook Marketplace since yesterday (27 September) with prices typically ranging between £1 and £20. Some of the vessels were said by those selling the items to contain petrol.
At least 320 such cans have appeared on the site over the past seven days.
Meanwhile, on Gumtree, 121 listings containing the term ‘jerry can’ have appeared since last week within a similar price range.
Warnings from motoring organisations
The activity has prompted motoring bodies and businesses to warn consumers about the safety of their online purchases.
“[We] would not encourage drivers or riders to carry petrol around with them or store it at home,” said Neil Greig, policy and research director at road safety charity IAM Roadsmart.
“It is extremely inflammable and must be kept in a marked approved container. Poor quality cans can leak, lose vapour, pour badly or degrade over time. Most official retailer websites will sell safe cans but as ever with internet purchases you can’t guarantee quality.”
Mr Greig added that by law, cans should carry the words ‘petrol’ and ‘highly flammable’ as well as a suitable hazard warning sign, the can’s capacity in litres and the manufacturer’s name.
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) echoed his comments, urging those buying or selling cans and/or fuel to adhere to the laws governing petrol.
Its technical manager Ray Blake pointed to the Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014, which states plastic fuel containers should be no larger than 10 litres, while metal cans cannot exceed 20 litres in size.
Some motorists have apparently ignored this legislation with the Alliance of British Drivers saying it had seen footage of drivers filling unsuitable receptacles, including hot water bottles.
What’s the latest situation with fuel supplies?
Speaking to the BBC today (28 September), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "we now are starting to see the situation improve" as fuel had begun to work its way through the supply chain.
He was echoed by the PRA, which told the broadcaster there were "early signs that the crisis at pumps is ending", as deliveries had made it through to its membership of independent forecourts.
On Monday night, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng Tweeted that the army had been “put on a state of readiness and [would be] deployed if necessary to deliver fuel”.
Meanwhile the AA’s president Edmund King told drivers there was “no need to rush to the pumps”.
Mr King added the spate of panic buying at pumps over the weekend had seen the AA handle a “dramatic rise in misfuelling” whereby drivers had put the wrong fuel in their vehicles.
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