The price of fuel in Ireland is likely to remain very volatile in the coming months due to the war in Ukraine as Irish buyers scramble to find new fuel suppliers, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport has heard.
The prices at which retailers are buying diesel have risen by 17 cents in the last seven days alone and the price should rise again on Wednesday, the committee was told.
This effectively overturned the excise duty cut, and retailers are calling for a VAT review on fuel to bring prices down again.
Diesel prices have recently usurped gasoline as Europe relies on Russian diesel imports, which are no longer bought, and a supply shock has seen diesel prices soar across the continent.
More than a quarter of all diesel in the EU was previously sourced from Russia and this change caused a “supply shortage”.
Ireland only had a day’s supply of commercial diesel at Dublin port at one point after the invasion of Ukraine, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport heard from Fuels For Ireland’s Kevin McPartlan.
That supply shortage has Irish buyers looking to stocks from other suppliers to keep Ireland’s diesel cars on the road, but Mr McPartland said he was now “confident in security of supply” after an initial fear in the first weeks of the Ukraine war.
Fuel traders expressed dissatisfaction with the characterization that the crisis in Ukraine led to “usury and price gouging” by fuel companies in Ireland.
Mr Partlan slammed the government’s message that people would see the price of fuel fall the day after the excise duty cut went into effect, saying they “knew or should have known that wasn’t true”.
“They had more than one cabinet minister telling people they could expect a reduction at midnight that night when they knew – or if they didn’t know they should have – that wasn’t true,” McPartland told the committee.
“This simply could not have happened as excise duty had already been paid on supplies lying in the forecourts that night. It gave the false impression that prices could fall immediately and caused anger and frustration, often directed at our colleagues.
“The very earliest would have been the next day… but it could have been 10 days later,” Mr McPartland said, depending on when retailers took their next delivery after the excise cut was introduced.
Workers at petrol stations have been met with “streams of abuse” by customers who believe the companies have not passed on the excise cuts, and this has been fueled by “erroneous comments” from government officials, Mr McPartland said.
Some workers refused to go to work after public abuse over “understandable” anger at the price of fuel, David Blevings of the Irish Petrol Retailers’ Association told the committee.
He said IPRA had asked the government to clarify that it would not be possible for retailers to pass on the cut immediately, but he had “not yet seen anything in the media to illustrate this”.
There appear to be a small number of fuel dealers who are “price gougers” and are “doing a great disservice to the rest,” said committee vice chairman Kieran O’Donnell.
Questioning Mr McPartland about the four times a day increase in the price of green diesel, MP Michael FitzMaurice said: “If that isn’t price gouging then I’m Dutch”.
Mr McPartland said prices are so volatile at the moment that it is quite possible for some fuel wholesalers to buy fuel at four different prices in one day.
https://www.independent.ie/news/fuel-prices-to-remain-volatile-as-government-messaging-on-price-cuts-comes-under-fire-41480306.html Fuel prices remain volatile as government price cut announcements come under fire