Competition law has been put on pause for the fuel industry in an attempt to get a grip on the panic buying crisis.
The move will allow the industry to share information so it can target areas where supply is running low.
It comes as experts warn between 50% and 90% of the UK’s independent forecourts have ‘run dry’.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted there is no fuel shortage and begged drivers to only take what they need.
But his words have fallen on deaf ears, as ambulances are delayed by huge queues and fights break out at pumps across the country.
The decision to suspend competition law was announced tonight after Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with oil companies and retailers to discuss the dire situation.
Mr Kwarteng said: ‘We have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can still be made in the event of a serious disruption.
‘While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.
‘This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised.’
In a separate joint statement from the likes of Shell, ExxonMobile and Greenergy, the industry reiterated that the pressures on supply were being caused by ‘temporary spikes in customer demand, not a national shortage of fuel’.
Ministers are desperately trying to solve the situation and announced atemporary visa scheme less than 24 hours before.
It will see 5,000 foreign HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers allowed into the UK on three-month contracts up to Christmas Eve.
But experts have slammed the scheme as ‘too little, too late’.
The new workers are ‘not going to make a very large dent on the 90,000-100,000 that we are perceived to be short’, the director of the HGV Recruitment Centre Marc Fels has cautioned.
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