Fuel supplier under pressure
By JOHN ROBERTSON
SHETLAND’s main fuel supplier GB Oils is to come under pressure to cut its prices by the body which controls the island’s public transport network.
ZetTrans is calling for a meeting with the Irish-owned distributor to raise its concerns about the big gap between mainland fuel prices and those in Shetland. A recent study by its transport strategy officer Emma Perring showed a difference of as much as 30p a litre.
ZetTrans’ determination to get to the bottom of the problem was strengthened this week by news that, unlike petrol, diesel and heating oil, marine gas oil in Shetland has apparently returned to around the level of a year ago, before the period of rocketing prices. The anomaly was reported to Monday’s ZetTrans meeting by Lerwick Port Authority chief executive Sandra Laurenson.
Marine gas oil (MGO) is supplied and sold in Shetland by BP and Conoco through Peterson SBS which stores up to 9,000 tonnes of the fuel for the oil companies, offloaded from tankers which call at the Greenhead Base. On Friday the price to buy MGO was around £425 a tonne, down from a peak of £730 a tonne a few months ago.
Meanwhile, GB Oils has defended its pricing in Shetland, appearing to blame its slow response to plummeting oil prices on the fact that it buys its fuel monthly which “mitigates against us when the prices fall quickly in a short number of days”. In a brief email response to MSP Tavish Scott, the company’s managing director Sam Chambers said the prices were being adjusted and would fall in due course. He said the company’s margins had not varied greatly over the last two years.
“We too are aware of the price differential between the Scottish islands and the mainland and it is certainly not in our commercial interests to alienate our customer base. We are in the Scottish Islands for the long haul and we have invested heavily in all our marine terminals.”