Fuel costs on inter-island ferries are running at £500,000 over budget this year.
The amount of the overspend emerged at a meeting of the council’s inter-island ferries board today and chairman Robert Henderson said it is something that would have to be monitored closely
The overspend was described by member Alastair Cooper as “most worrying”. Transport chief Michael Craigie said that fuel costs are so great because Shetland is locked into a national supply network in what amounts to a government contract.
The same grade of fuel is available at a cheaper price, Mr Craigie said, but it is not possible to access it meantime. In addition cheaper ways of bringing the fuel to Shetland must be looked at. The fuel budget was set a year ago, he said, and was based on the cost at that time, which was 31p per litre. Since then prices have fluctuated.
Mr Henderson said the fuel situation was “not in our control” but increased income from ferries could offset some of this overspend.
Meanwhile the inter-island ferries have made savings of £96,000 so far this financial year. This has come from increased income from ferry users and from “efficiencies” in maintenance and dockings. Mr Craigie said: “We continue to find ways to reduce costs.”
Unexpected repairs come out of a different budget, he said. These are typically found when a vessel goes into drydock.