I’m not sure if this is their ‘finest hour’, but things in the UK just got a bit worse. An estimated 2 million homes, plus schools, businesses and even hospitals may be facing heating oil rationing in the UK during Christmas. Supplies are already low and according to the government, additional shipments of heating oil could take four weeks or more. If you thought that the recent riots by students over college tuition costs increasing were bad, just wait!

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 09: Police officers in riot wear advance at student protesters in Parliament Square on December 9, 2010 in London, England. Parliament voted today to implement the coalition Government's proposals to increase university tuition fees in England from 3,290 GBP to 9,000 GBP. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Winter is already hitting Europe early as a cold snap and snow storms have wreaked havoc for the past month. This is part of the reason for the shortages of heating oil now facing the UK. The cost has jumped, needless to say, from 40p per liter to 70p. Some believe there is price gouging going on, but it appears to be more a simple case of supply and demand.

While only about 6% of homes in the UK rely on heating oil, in remote areas, the percentages are much higher. In Northern Ireland, for example, about 60% of households use heating oil, over a half a million homes. Scotland accounts for about 155,000 and England for most of the rest. What’s worse is that most public facilities, like schools and hospitals, in the rural areas of the UK, also depend on heating oil for staying warm.

A new round of snow storms is hitting the UK as temperatures plummet a second time in recent weeks. Weather forecasters are calling for the entire UK to be blanketed by snow this weekend. This could cause delays of shipments of current stocks of heating oil.

The government is seriously considering rationing heating oil in the UK until the supply shortages can be corrected. Energy Minister Charles Hendry said that they are working with suppliers to make sure people have enough to get by this holiday season. In addition to that, the government has relaxed restrictions on truck (lorry) drivers, extended their driving hours to help get heating oil to customers. But even with these measures, the situation could be very bad, especially if the weather continues to be a problem.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30: Police officers in riot gear stand guard in the snow in Trafalgar Square as they monitor a student protest over the Government's budget cuts and proposed rise in tuition fees on November 30, 2010 in London, England. Hundreds of students evaded police containment tactics and marched throughout Westminster and the City of London from Trafalgar Square in the third major protest of its kind in London in as many weeks. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Related Articles:

Millions face fuel rationing over Christmas as heating oil runs low

Heating Oil ‘Crisis’ Over Weather and Prices

UK: Millions Face Fuel Rationing