Parliamentarians seek Office of Fair Trading review of high fuel prices

The continued high cost of petrol and fuel for people in the Northern Isles has prompted Shetland and Orkney’s parliamentarians to request a review by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) into the liquid fuel market in the islands.

The move by MP Alistair Carmichael and MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur follows an increase in the cost of petrol as well as warnings the cost of heating fuel oil could rise by as much as 70 per cent.

In a letter the trio call for the OFT to investigate the current situation and what they feel is a longstanding problem, and secure a better deal for customers.

Mr Carmichael said: “People in the Northern Isles are already forced to pay well over the odds for their fuel, whether this is petrol or heating oil.

“The distribution arrangements for the heating oil market in particular are a cause of significant concern and greater scrutiny is required to secure a better deal for consumers in Orkney and Shetland. An OFT investigation would be an important first step in this respect.”

Mr Scott said: “Sullom Voe is in our midst. Yet we still face record fuel prices and the fact is that only one company brings Shetland’s fuel to the islands from Grangemouth.

“The company holds a monopoly position and therefore can charge what it likes. So the international rise in crude oil prices and their impact on what we pay at the pump is worsened by a monopoly supplier. That must be investigated and quickly.”

A spokesman for the OFT said: “There are many factors that can influence the retail price of fuel, including seasonal factors and local distribution costs.

“For the OFT to investigate the issue under the Competition Act 1998, we would need some evidence of agreements between suppliers if collusion is alleged, or of abuse of dominance if a monopoly is alleged. However, we will carefully consider any complaints made to us and will continue to monitor this alongside other markets.”


Add Your Comment
  • adrian anderson

    • December 16th, 2010 23:25

    As an ex-pat now working in England where fuel is decidedly a lot cheaper I understand fully the price comparison argument.
    I can only say that I have to travel a round trip of 46 miles per day to my job.
    It is no better paid than above the prescribed basic minimum wage.
    Down here, I am thought to have a short distance to commute compared to some others.
    When I lived in Scalloway, I had the same type job (better paid) and a lesser distance to go to Lerwick…swings and roundabouts


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