Motorists have continued to panic-buy petrol, causing chaotic scenes at some garages, as it emerged that talks over the tanker drivers' dispute will not be held before Monday.
The conciliation service Acas said its officials have been in contact with the Unite union and seven distribution companies involved in the row in a bid to convene a meeting and head off the threat of industrial action.
That process should be concluded by Monday and substantive discussions should follow shortly afterwards, Acas announced.
The move followed news that increased sales of fuel from panic-buying by motorists on Wednesday will bring in more than £32 million in extra fuel excise duty. The AA calculated the figure after petrol sales shot up by 81% and diesel by 43% as motorists flocked to garages across the UK to fill up following advice from ministers.
The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents about 5,500 garages, blamed advice from the Government on keeping tanks topped up, including the much-criticised call by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to fill up jerry cans.
A spokesman said: "This is exactly what we didn't want - people panic-buying. Deliveries are still being made to garages and we are advising people to continue with their normal buying habits."
AA president Edmund King said: "There is no fuel tanker strike and therefore if drivers followed normal fuel-buying patterns, there would be no fuel shortage whatsoever."
But panic-buying was reported across the UK, leading to long queues outside some garages and "sold out" or "food only" signs greeting car drivers. One van driver in Leeds said he had been waiting for 30 minutes to get fuel while in Harrogate a forecourt on the outskirts of the town had run out of fuel by 11.30am.
Retail store Halfords reported "high" sales of fuel cans. Sales of all cans have soared by 225% compared with this time last year, with motorists buying in "the thousands", while sales of jerry cans are up by more than 500%.
Meanwhile, the political row over the Government's handling of the dispute continued to rage, with Labour describing it as "shambolic and shameful".