Taken to the cleaners (Colin Hunter)
I was away “sooth” on a bit of a break a couple of weeks ago, and during that time I had the opportunity to fill the car on several occasions. One such time was at the station on East Marketgait in Dundee where unleaded was £1.30.9 and diesel was £1.34.9 that day. The same day I received an email from www.petrolprices.com informing me that the price of diesel in Brae was £1.46.9, as it still was yesterday when I filled up there.
Bearing in mind that we now “enjoy” a 5p duty derogation thanks to HM government, that makes a price difference of 17p a litre. Now, before we were granted the duty derogation, the difference was between 13 and 14 pence a litre.
Is it not strange that, within not many months of being introduced, the benefit to the consumer of the duty derogation seems to have shrunk as the price difference, cunningly masked by many upward and downward price perambulations not seen on the mainland, has crept ever upward.
Now, that nice Mr Chambers of GB Oils once went on record and told us that the cost of transporting fuel to Shetland was 2.7p a litre. This leaves 14.3p (or 65p a gallon) more or less unaccounted for. Mr Chambers told us that this was because of the cost of running the depot at the North Ness, maintenance of the tanker fleet and drivers wages etc etc., and that the remainder was down to the individual retailers.
OK! Fair comment, but are there no such depots down south, or tanker fleets to maintain, and drivers to pay? And do the retailers there not take a bit of a cut too? It would be naive to assume that the fuel from Grangemouth arrives in Dundee as if by magic and the journey costs nothing! A distance of almost 70 miles by road. Oddly enough another 70 miles or so to Aberdeen adds only another penny! Both distances are almost as far as you can drive in Shetland before falling off the end!
I don’t imagine for one minute that the fuel is transported by road tanker all the way though. That would be more expensive, and with Dundee and Aberdeen being seaports, it is not unreasonable to assume that the same, or similar, vessel is used to transport the fuel more cheaply to a depot on the dockside in those places. Perhaps adding a penny or so in Dundee and maybe 1.5p to Aberdeen. There is also a small refinery in Dundee which also supplies fuels into the marine and retail markets. That, coupled with the existence of more than one distributor, of course, adds a degree of competition into the equation, something which is singularly lacking here in Shetland.
If the cost at the pump is, in fact, dependant on the distance the fuel is transported by road, why then is the nearest station to the North Ness one of the most expensive on the mainland (of Shetland) and the Aywick shop in Yell one of the most reasonable?
Perhaps the saddest part of the whole thing is that, when I remarked on the price discrepancy to the young lass behind the counter she seemed to think that “It wasn’t that bad”, thereby confirming that most people are just complacently accepting the situation, and are being taken to the cleaners every time they fill up!