BRITAIN'S petrol crisis could last for another month even if drivers stop panic buying now, with Boris Johnson hatching plans to save Christmas.
Industry chiefs said it will take weeks to restock fuel stations which have been virtually drained dry by days of mass panic from motorists.
Boris Johnson insisted the six-day crisis is now "stabilising" and played down fears that the hit to supply chains will affect Christmas.
He urged Brits to stop panic buying and start acting "in a normal way" again as he unveiled plans to boost the number of lorry drivers available.
Soldiers will start driving tankers to the forecourts from the end of this week but there are fears that won't be enough to return things to normal.
Desperate Brits queued throughout the night once more with school buses being cancelled and blood deliveries stopped due to lack of supplies.
There were reports of more fights on forecourts, with a third of London black cabs now said to be off the road with empty tanks.
Throughout the crisis ministers have insisted there's no shortage of petrol in the country.
And industry sources told The Times that the average amount of fuel in petrol stations has stabilised over recent days.
It now stands at around 20% of capacity compared with normal levels of 43%. Over the weekend it was feared to have plummeted to as low as 10%.
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But they warned major providers such as BP, which was the first to ration fuel, are still likely to face problems well into next month.
The number of forecourts missing one grade of fuel has more than halved from 1,700 on Sunday to 800 now in signs the crisis is starting to ease.
The Petrol Retailers Association said 37% of its members reported running out of fuel yesterday compared to 95% at the weekend.
Yesterday the PM insisted he is working hard to address the problems sparked by a shortage of HGV drivers.
He blamed the panic buying crisis in part on a "slightly misleading" briefing about the lack of truckers that sparked an "understandable surge in public demand".
And he added: "We’re now starting to see the situation improve. We’re hearing from the fuel industry that supplies are coming on to the forecourts in the usual way.
"We want to make sure we have all the preparations necessary to get through to Christmas and beyond, not just in supplying the petrol stations but in all parts of our economy.
"You’re seeing the global economy sucking in a huge amount of demand for gas, for lorry drivers. We’ve got to make sure that we have everything in place.
"I would really urge everybody to go about their business in the normal way and fill up in the normal way when you really need it."
Up to 300 troops are now available to be deployed to help ease the supply crisis if necessary by driving lorries.
They're all qualified to get behind the wheel but may still need three days' training to learn how to fill up petrol stations.
Ministers are also fast-tracking three-month visas for 5,000 truckers from abroad to help plug gaps in the UK's shortage.
But industry chiefs warned the sticking plaster solution is "too little, too late" amid fears many drivers from the continent won't want to come anyway.
There is also a massive backlog of 54,000 HGV licence applications at the DVLA which will take at least two months to clear.
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