The capital is bracing itself for a "summer of discontent" with the first salvo from irate tanker drivers already refusing to deliver supplies to a number of Texaco petrol stations across London, in a dispute over pay and conditions for drivers.
The London Daily News spoke with Texaco officials who confirmed that areas of north-west London including Hendon, Neasdon and Brent Cross are not receiving new deliveries of petrol. Valero Energy the UK company operating Texco in the UK said:
"Valero has seen a significant increase in the number of orders from service stations for fuel in the last 24 hours. We are working with our customers to schedule deliveries but the increase has resulted in a number being rescheduled to a later time or the following day. All delivery rescheduling has been agreed in advance with our customers."
The Government has already condemned the move by the petrol tanker drivers and have told drivers to start "stock piling" petrol, with the army put on standby to deliver petrol to areas that are affected.
The Fire Brigades Union have condemnded the Government for telling people to stock-pile petrol using jerry cans and have urged Francis Maude to withdraw comments about storing jerry cans of petrol.
Speaking on Sky News Francis Maude the Cabinet Office minister advised people to stock "up on fuel in case of a walkout at what is one of the busiest travel periods of the year".
"When it makes sense, a bit of extra fuel in a jerry can in the garage is a sensible precaution to take," Mr Maude told Sky News.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: "The general public does not properly understand the fire and explosion risk of storing fuel, even if it was done sensibly. "Those without garages may be tempted to store fuel in the home. In the event of a fire in the house or a neighbouring property, it would be disastrous. He added: "There is a real danger the public will start storing fuel in inappropriate ways if the Government is encouraging panic-buying and storage. This advice is wrong and must be withdrawn."
The AA and Esso both insist panic-buying is completely unnecessary and are urging drivers not to change their buying patterns.
AA president Edmund King said: "It's totally inappropriate for people to panic-buy. No strikes have yet been announced and there is enough fuel out there as long as people do not fill up unnecessarily."
Brian Madderson, the petrol chairman of the Retail Motor Industry Federation which represents independent forecourt operators, also called for calm.
He said: "This Government appears to be intent on creating a crisis out of a serious concern.
"We believe that cool heads must prevail here, otherwise we are going to run out of stock rather quickly - and by cool heads, that means the Government as well.
"They should be focusing their attention on getting Acas round a table with all the parties involved and thrashing out a negotiated settlement."
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, says: "Rather than panic-buying excess fuel, motorists could consider finding ways to improve their fuel efficiency. This can be achieved by making relatively simple adjustments so motorists can drive further on one tank and shouldn't really need to store extra fuel in jerrycans.
"Soaring fuel prices have already increased the pressure on motorists to squeeze every last mile out of their tank but the threat of shortages has upped the ante even further. But there are several measures motorists can take to make what fuel they've got last longer such as checking tyre pressures and using the air conditioning at speeds over 40 mph. Motorists should also consider using fuel additives such as BG44K, which can improve fuel economy."
Photo credit: Natalie Mitrides (to obtain the images click here)