The strike threat by tanker drivers at Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland is seriously concerning the petrol retailing industry, as echoes of the chaos caused by a similar situation last March emerge.

Unite said its members at the Forth estuary facility will walk out for three days from today in a dispute over pensions and pay. A second four-day strike will be staged from Thursday next week unless the dispute is settled, with an additional work-to-rule by all 40 drivers expected to start on Monday.

Brian Madderson, PRA chairman, said: “Following the fuels crisis in March 2012 the PRA has been working closely with Government to consider emergency supply arrangements should problems, such as industrial disputes, impact on the flow of fuel to forecourts.

“While some steps have been taken, the Government has failed to comprehend that with 5,000 fewer forecourts since September 2000, and with all independent forecourts holding minimum stock due to high costs from tax and product prices, the UK’s fuel resilience has never been so low.

“A meeting with John Hayes MP, Energy Minister, has been arranged for later this month to urgently discuss practical solutions to help improve the countries energy resilience. The change of excise duty point from the loading terminal to the forecourt pump is absolutely critical to these steps.

“In the meantime PRA will closely monitor the situation in Scotland and North East England for any fuel or forecourt outages due to the current dispute.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has informed the PRA that the industry has been working to ensure that there is a good level of fuel supplies at forecourts in preparation for the current strike and therefore motorists should buy fuel as normal.