'I am very pleased to report that the protestors have now left Grangemouth refinery and that common sense has prevailed. I must however emphasise the seriousness of the situation and the difficulties that remain. We were taken to the edge and even now there is likely to be a great deal of inconvenience, dislocation and financial loss.
'Efforts are now being made to get supplies back to normal as quickly as possible. I understand that extra tankers and drivers have been rostered and that tanker loads are leaving the refinery every few minutes. However it is going to take some time to make up lost ground and the assessment we have been given is that it may be early next week before supplies are restored in all parts of the country.
'The deliveries that are being made are going to priority users including emergency and essential services, utilities and transport services, as well as to the 350 designated filling stations across Scotland. We shall be issuing guidance this afternoon to all concerned in order to ensure that the fuel available at these filling stations goes to these priority users. The success of this depends on goodwill and tolerance. I very much hope that this will be forthcoming.
'Even then I know that there will continue to be some difficulties until early next week as a result of the blockade at Grangemouth. I would like to thank the general public for their forbearance thus far and to ask them to help ensure that those who need supplies of fuel most urgently are allowed priority on the forecourts. It has been an enormously difficult time and there are doubtless lessons to be learned. Demonstrations have appeared all over Europe - France, Germany, Belgium, Spain - but that does not diminish the very real problems that we still face.'
Meanwhile, the Scottish executive has written to all chief constables, local authority chief executives and health board chief executives in Scotland providing guidance on priority purposes.
The text of the letter and the list of priority purposes are given below:
'The Scottish executive has had a number of requests for guidance on what are the priority purposes which are necessary for the maintenance of key services in the community.
'I attach guidance on priority purposes to local authorities, the oil companies and any others who may have to make judgements on what are the services essential for the life of the community. The list is being used at Grangemouth refinery to prioritise deliveries to bulk fuel facilities.
'The oil companies are also prioritising deliveries to the 360 or so retailing sites in Scotland listed under the current statutory scheme. This scheme does not legally restrict the class of purchaser who may buy fuel from one of the designated stations but we are aware that prioritisation schemes are being operated locally and that it may be helpful to provide guidance to assist decisions which may have to be made in dealing with customers.
'The attached list describes the priorities which the executive believe should be adopted if possible in making these decisions. There is no requirement at present for local authority officials or police constables to be present on forecourts to assist in prioritising supply. It is a matter for chief officers to decide whether the deployment of officers on particular station forecourts would be helpful in ensuring an orderly return to normality.
'I would be grateful if the advice in this letter could be promulgated widely.'
GUIDANCE ON PRIORITY PURPOSES LIST
Performance of functions of the police or the armed forces, or operation of the fire services.
Operation of health or social services.
Manufacture, processing, storage, packaging, distribution or sale of food including milk, milk products, animal feeding stuffs, pet foods or salt.
Movement or slaughter of livestock for the production of food or of animal feeding stuffs or for veterinary reasons.
Essential operations at nuclear sites.
Maintenance of water supplies or operation of sewerage and drainage services.
Production, supply, distribution or transmission of solid or liquid fuel, or gas or electricity in the course of business, or provision of emergency services to consumers of such fuels.
Operation of railways, tramways, docks or harbours.
Operation of any of the following transport services -
(1) coach or bus services (excluding excursions or tours);
(2) services provided by employers of labour for taking their employees to or from their work by means of vehicles adapted to carry eight or more passengers;
(3) airport bus services.
Operation of air traffic control, air navigation and civil airline services or air marine safety or navigational services.
Marine safety, navigational (including pilotage), shipping and ferry services.
Search and rescue services including coastguard and lifeboat services.
Production or distribution of medical or pharmaceutical supplies.
Operation of postal and telecommunications services (including broadcasting, newspaper production and distribution).
Transmission of money or of social security and other essential official payments or documents.
Movement or delivery of cash or cheques.
Operation of payment, clearing or settlement services.
Agriculture or horticulture for the production of food or animal feeding stuffs.
Operation of fishing vessels.
Manufacture or distribution of ice or dry ice for use in the food trades.
Essential central government and local government functions
Administration of justice, including the operation of prison services and electronic tagging services.
Environmental and environmental health services and related emergencies.
Funeral services including cremation.
Refuse collection and disposal.
Industrial processes involving hazardous or radioactive substances, including transportation.
Operation (including heating) of special schools or colleges for the handicapped.
Foreign diplomatic missions for essential purposes.