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Move by Asda sparks hopes of fuel price war

By Lisa Smyth

The possibility of a new price war between major fuel retailers is on the cards as Asda slashed petrol and diesel prices this morning.

Beleaguered motorists across Northern Ireland were today benefiting from a welcome boost from the supermarket chain which lowered the cost of diesel to 116.9p a litre and unleaded petrol to 105.9p.

The company has even urged other retailers across to follow suit and allow all hard-pressed drivers the chance to fill their tanks for less — regardless of where they live — prompting hopes that Sainsbury’s and Tesco may follow suit.

Announcing the price drop, a statement from Asda said it is passing more savings on to its customers by lowering its national pump price at all of its 170 plus petrol stations across n Ireland.

Darren Blackhurst, ASDA trading director, said: “We review our fuel prices daily and are committed to passing back the benefits of lower cost prices to all our customers with our national price.

“We urge our rivals not to take advantage of drivers who don't live close to an ASDA petrol station and to pass on cost benefits fairly to all their customers.”

The cuts being implemented by Asda from today bring some good news to motorists who are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their cars filled up with fuel.

But with only seven stores selling petrol and diesel in Northern Ireland, the majority of motorists will have to keep on paying higher prices — unless other fuel retailers cut their prices also.

In September, a price war broke out between a number of leading fuel retailers but as is frequently |the case, consumers in Northern Ireland failed to reap many of |the benefits.

Morrisons, Shell and Esso — none of whom operate in the Ulster market — slashed up to 3p a litre off both diesel and petrol in response to the falling cost of oil.

Asda also waded in and began charging 106.9p for petrol and 118.9p for diesel at all its UK filling stations, including all seven of its outlets in Northern Ireland.

As part of its Price Watch campaign, the Belfast Telegraph has been repeatedly calling for a fair price for fuel for all Northern Ireland motorists.

Launched last month, we are demanding an end to the way two leading retail giants charge drivers for petrol and diesel in a postcode lottery.

In August, Tesco and Sainsbury's were urged to drop regional pricing policies after it emerged the cost of filling up your car was subject to regional variations of 5p a litre.

However, within a matter of weeks the disparity in prices had gone up to around 9p, if not more, after a new fuel price war broke out among the UK's leading retailers.

A Tesco spokeswoman said the company continues to offer customers a great deal on fuel and added: “Our aim is to be competitive in the local catchment area of every store.”

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