Belfast Telegraph

Fuel prices in Northern Ireland now among the lowest in UK

By Claire McNeilly

Drivers in Northern Ireland are benefiting from some of the lowest fuel prices in the UK.

Six weeks after the cost fell to below £1 a litre on supermarket forecourts here, the UK average has yet to fall to that level.

New analysis has found that potential price cuts from the lower cost of oil have been lost in commodity market prices that have failed to fall in line with oil.

Competition at the pumps at forecourts here has, however, kept prices lower than elsewhere in the UK.

Figures from the AA's January Fuel Price Report showed that Northern Ireland has the lowest diesel prices, at 101.6p a litre, than in any other region. It is also below the UK average of 102.6p.

Unleaded, which is priced at 102.2p per litre, is in keeping with the UK average, and makes the province the cheapest place to fill up, bar East Anglia, where it costs 101.9p.

Oil prices have collapsed by more than 70% since their peak of around $115 (£81) a barrel in summer 2014 as large producers such as Saudi Arabia maintain production levels, putting US shale rivals under pressure.

That is good news for motorists because it means lower prices at the pumps.

According to the latest figures, unleaded prices have dropped 2.2p from 104.4p per litre to 102.2 per litre, while diesel prices have dropped back 5.1p from 107.7p to 102.6p per litre.

The price difference between diesel and unleaded is just now 0.4p, the AA said.

Supermarket prices for unleaded remain at 99.9p per litre.

Meanwhile, the gap between supermarket prices and the UK average for unleaded has shrunk to 2.3p.

Crude oil prices have been falling since 2014, but large Middle Eastern producers have kept up output in a bid to retain market share and put American rivals under pressure.

And while the long-term impact on the global economy is uncertain, it is bringing short-term benefits to many businesses and consumers

The AA's Luke Bosdet said prices at the pumps would be even cheaper without the ramping up of prices in the commodity markets.

Prices fell here partly because of the influence of prices in the Republic and greater penetration of supermarket prices, Mr Bodset added.

But Seamus Leheny, manager of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) here, said fuel duty remained a problem.

"Fuel represents one-third of annual operating costs for hauliers and is consistently the number one concern for our members," he added.

"The high cost of fuel ultimately affects the price of goods on shelves and exports, hence if the cost of transporting goods is reduced then it benefits consumers and exporters.

"However, for every £1 a litre at the pump, 60p is fuel duty - the highest in the EU - and 16p is VAT, so the biggest winner is ultimately the Government."

He said the FTA would continuing lobbying the Chancellor for a cut in fuel duty.

And Stephen Kelly, the chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said transportation was benefiting from falling prices.

But oil prices were falling in competitors' markets so the advantage was not limited to Northern Ireland, he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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