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Fuel prices soar in space of a week as Ukraine crisis starts to hit Northern Ireland

The price of petrol and diesel is soaring across Northern Ireland as war in Ukraine impacts on crude oil prices, with even the cheapest petrol up 4p per litre since last week.

Average fuel prices are now at a record high following the Russian invasion. But a snap survey by the Belfast Telegraph has found that prices in services stations here are varying by as much as 9p a litre for diesel.

The top diesel price we found was 154.9p per litre at an independent service station in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry.

But at Tesco service stations in Carrickfergus and Lisnagelvin, Londonderry, diesel was substantially cheaper at 145.9p. That was the lowest price we could find in the Magherafelt, Carrickfergus and Derry areas.

For people living in the north west, cheaper diesel was a short trip over the border away. A service station at Bridgend in Co Donegal was charging 173.9 cents (144.9p) for diesel. It charged 178.7 cents (148.9p) for petrol.

Petrol prices also fluctuated but by a smaller margin than diesel. We recorded the highest price at the same independent service station in Magherafelt which sold the dearest diesel. Petrol there was 152.9p per litre.

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In Newcastle, Co Down, prices per litre of petrol varied from 146.9p to 149.9p. Diesel also ranged from 148.9p to 151.9p in the town.

According to the Consumer Council’s weekly fuel price tracker for last week, the cheapest petrol price exactly one week ago was 140.9p, and the most expensive at 150.9p. One week later, and following the invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, the cheapest price for petrol in Northern Ireland was 144.9p per litre at Tesco in Derry and Carrick.

The Consumer Council estimates that a typical fill is around 40 litres, so filling up on the lowest-priced petrol is now costing an extra £1.60 compared to last week.

One year ago, the most expensive place for diesel here was charging 125.9p per litre, while the dearest petrol was 121.9p,

In Carrickfergus, Go Express and a BP station at Spar were both charging 149.9p per litre for both diesel and petrol.

Tesco stores in Carrickfergus and Derry were charging the same price of 144.9p for petrol and 145.9p for diesel.

The rising price of crude oil has been putting pressure on petrol and diesel prices. Richard Williams, head of transport at the Consumer Council, said the price of a barrel of crude oil had gone up by around 50% over the last year in response to economic factors, such as the restarting of the global economy following Covid lockdowns.

It has now passed the $100 mark, with a barrel of Brent Crude hitting $107 at one point yesterday. He said: “The situation in Ukraine has pushed prices up and we really don’t know how long the trend for rising prices will last.”

Stormont's Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has also warned of possible food shortages this year because of the invasion.

Mr Poots told the Assembly that the consequences of the Russian action would be "significantly greater" than the consequences of Brexit.

During ministerial question time, Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton asked what effect the assault on Ukraine.

Mr Poots said: "Ukraine is a supplier of cereals to Northern Ireland and consequently that has implications for the chicken, pork and diary industries in particular.

"We will seek to identify other sources, which will probably be north American. But the consequences of prices going up is inevitable.

"Russia is a big supplier of nitrogen. I have absolutely no doubt that the sanctions which will be imposed upon Russia will lead to the availability of nitrogen being more challenging. That is a price that has to be paid because we cannot tolerate Russia's behaviour.

"But at the same time it has a consequence for the amount of food we are currently capable of producing. Nitrogen is a key nutrient for our soils."

Asked if he foresaw a ‘global shortage’ of some of these products, Mr Poots said: "I think there is every possibility that we have food shortages this year on the back of what is happening in Russia and Ukraine and people need to recognise and realise the risks that are involved.

"I am requesting a meeting with the Secretary of State for Defra (George Eustice) to discuss these issues and get a better handle of where we might stand."

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