“Oil prices moving lower is good news for consumers”, says NIOF”

Responding to last week’s article in the Derry Journal that claimed that “Derry and the poor are paying more for oil”.David Blevings, spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Oil Federation (NIOF) said, “Contrary to the article, oil prices are actually moving lower and we have seen up to 5ppl knocked off retail home heat costs this month. Oil costs in NI are continually lower than the UK and ROI average due to healthy competition in the home heat market which is good news for consumers.

This was acknowledged by the Consumer Council in their corporate plan which states, ‘On a like for like basis, the recent average annual cost of heating a home in NI (using oil) is c.10% cheaper than in the UK.Oil consumers concerned about their ability to pay should meet with their distributor and work out a payment plan – there is no need to buy drums or to order small amounts. Drums are only for emergency use and should only be used a temporary measure until a distributor can make a delivery. A payment scheme using PayPoint, direct debit or stamps will enable customers to budget for energy use and allow them to order larger amounts and benefit from the discount that bulk purchase allows for.

Regarding the comments about oil being at a ten year high and regulation I can advise that oil prices were higher than the current level back in 2013 and it is good to see them reducing. On the regulations issue, the Assembly debated this several years ago and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment said that ‘regulation would add more cost and increase the burden to the consumer’. It may surprise readers but the industry would welcome regulation as it would increase profitability. A typical oil distribution business works on a net margin of less than 1%.

On a positive note, oil prices are reducing and this is good news as the winter sets in. We would always advocate that consumers should use distributors that have a recognised customer charter in place offering a framework for delivery standards and clear complaints procedure. All NIOF members have signed up to a customer charter which is supported by the Consumer Council and customers can ask for a copy of this documentation or download it from the www.nioil.com website”, added David.