The sun sets on an illuminated oil refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland as its smoke stacks puff exhaust into the atmosphere on March 29.

Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Oil troubles from U.K. to U.S.

The sun sets on an illuminated oil refinery on March 29 in Grangemouth, Scotland. Amid the possibility of a union strike of 2,000 British fuel tanker drivers over the upcoming Easter holiday, U.K. government officials are warning consumers to stock up on fuel as a precaution.

The union has ruled out the threat of a strike as long as next week's contract talks don't break down, but the government's announcement resulted in long lines at gas stations and soaring gasoline sales. Since gas prices in the U.K. are some of the highest in Europe, the government is being criticized by opposition politicians for using the announcement as an "inflammatory" tactic to encourage panic-buying among consumers.

Meanwhile in the U.S., President Barack Obama's attempt to nix $4 billion in tax breaks for big oil companies was blocked by Senate Republicans with a 51-47 vote against the bill on Thursday. Gas prices across the country are currently averaging about $3.92 a gallon — an increase of 33 cents from a year ago.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Photo: Gasoline worries spark panic buying across the pond
Amid the possibility of an union strike of fuel tanker drivers, U.K. government officials warn consumers of gas shortage, which results in panic buying and soar