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Home Heating Oil Prices in Northern Ireland Exceed £1 per Litre!

The Consumer Council’s weekly heating oil survey shows heating oil prices in Northern Ireland have again breached £1 per litre, more than twice the ten-year average price.  Prices have increased by more than a 25% in the past three weeks, the equivalent of more than £100 on 500 litres of heating oil.

Peter McClenaghan, Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability at the Consumer Council, said:

“Wholesale oil prices are very high, extremely changeable, and are having a serious impact in Northern Ireland. Heating oil now costs over £1 per litre, more than twice the ten-year average price.

This is awful news for many people. We speak to consumers every day and people are angry about high prices and very worried about the winter ahead. The Consumer Council is working closely with the Department for the Economy, the Department for Communities, the Utility Regulator, and the energy companies to put in place further support for consumers this winter. However, more direct financial assistance must be made available.

It is very clear that while the £400 payment announced by the Chancellor will be a help when it arrives it will not be enough to help Northern Ireland consumers through the winter ahead. The impending crisis also highlights how essential is that we succeed in the delivery of the Department for the Economy Energy Strategy which will reduce our reliance on imported energy in the long term.”

Explaining the reasons behind the price rises Peter said:

“Prices are high because we import all our oil and gas and as a result Northern Ireland is at the mercy of the global energy markets. This means consumers here are at risk when global prices rise because our local suppliers are unable to influence these prices.

Wholesale energy prices rocketed because the Russian invasion of Ukraine reduced access to Russian oil and gas forcing us, and many other countries, to look elsewhere to replace that portion of lost supply. There has also been a shortage of refining capacity within the UK and as our oil is purchased in dollars, and the value of the pound has dropped against the dollar, our suppliers can buy less oil for the same price in pounds.

These factors came on the back of already increasing prices because oil production was not keeping up with the amount of oil being used as life, travel, and industry began to return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, given this range of factors, heating oil prices are likely to seesaw in coming weeks while remaining well above the ten-year average price.”

To advise consumers, Peter added:

“With household running costs rising, many consumers are already actively reducing their energy use and are at the point of requiring financial support to meet their heating needs. That said, there are measures consumers can take to save some money on their bills if they are not already doing so. Using electrical appliances more efficiently can save you money. This includes switching off appliances rather than leaving them on standby and using the eco setting on your dishwasher and washing machine. Switching off lights when leaving the room could save over £100 per year.

“Joining an oil buying club enables householders to buy oil at a competitive price through community bulk buying. The Northern Ireland Oil Federation also has PayPoint facilities to enable you to budget and make regular payments towards your oil delivery instead of having to pay for your delivery in a lump sum. We discourage buying 20 litre emergency oil drums from forecourts as a regular means of topping up your oil tank as they are extremely expensive and should only be used in emergency circumstances.

“We also recommend that you have your boiler serviced annually as an efficient boiler will waste less energy, check the energy efficiency rating of any new appliance you buy as the higher the rating the less it will cost to run, and shop around energy suppliers because even as prices rise some companies will be cheaper than others.”

Ends

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