Fuel availability for motorists outside Scotland will not be affected by the potential shutdown at the Grangemouth refinery, according to Ray Holloway, director of the Petrol Retailers Association.

"If the shutdown does occur, the affect on supply in Scotland will be limited due to the sheer volume of fuel already in the supply

chain,’ he said. "If motorists in Scotland buy their normal fuel requirement, any inconvenience ultimately caused by the industrial dispute at Grangemouth will be minimised. It is still not certain that the refinery will close, and even if it does the fuels already in storage will remain available for distribution to forecourts across Scotland."

Holloway stressed that it would be the bulk-buying of fuel that would ultimately be responsible for any shortages: "Even if supplies are not interrupted, if motorists buy more than their normal requirements, they will be putting abnormal pressure on the road delivery services of the oil industry in Scotland. Forecourts do not have unlimited storage facilities. If they are prematurely drained of fuel stocks due to bulk buying this will lead to consumer inconvenience while they are refilled.

"Fuel suppliers have planned for these circumstances and by working with the Scottish and UK Governments will be able to ensure forecourt retailers requirements continue to be delivered by road tanker."

Meanwhile petrol companies have been accused of profiteering by exploiting fears that an oil refinery strike will cause pumps to run dry.

Motoring organisations have said they have seen the first signs of drivers panic buying, leading to filling stations cashing in by raising prices, with one site reportedly selling diesel for £1.45ppl.