Cost of living crisis: Good news as home heating oil at lowest price since Russia invaded Ukraine - petrol and diesel also down
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Similarly, petrol and diesel prices here have continued to drop further below those seen at the time hostilities broke out.
World oil prices surged dramatically after Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last year, with prices for both home heating oil and forecourt fuel in NI peaking at extreme levels last summer and autumn.
Just before the invasion, heating oil in NI was £317 for 500 litres, peaking at £540 last September. But NI homeowners can now rejoice that heating oil prices have hit their lowest price since the invasion, at £279.60, which is roughly the same level seen here a month before the war broke out.
Peter McClenaghan, Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability at the Consumer Council, said: “This summer we are seeing prices almost half the price they were last year. Consumers will be relieved to see these price decreases, particularly given most other household costs continue to rise."
He said consumers should ask distributors to beat the average Consumer Council Home Heating Oil survey price for their area.
Just before the invasion, average NI prices were 145.6p for petrol and 148.2p for diesel, soaring to 189.9p for petrol and 197.5p for diesel this time last year.
Since then the NI prices have generally declined steadily, but with more fluctuation in petrol prices. Mercifully they continue to drop below levels even lower than before the invasion, at 139.5p for petrol and 137.7p for diesel.
Richard Williams, Head of Transport at the Consumer Council, said: “It is good news for consumers that fuel prices are continuing to fall. Interestingly, for the third week running, the average price of diesel is less than unleaded.
"Prior to 18 May 2023, this had not been seen since the Consumer Council’s Fuel Price Checker began to track prices in July 2020. Diesel is also around 10p/litre less than the UK average, whereas the price of unleaded is around 3p/litre lower. However, the gap is narrowing – two weeks ago diesel was almost 16p/litre less than the UK average.”
The AA attributes lower NI pump prices to the Consumer Council price checker – https://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/fuelpricechecker/tool
AA fuel price spokesman Luke Bosdet said the falling price of diesel means much more for predominantly rural areas like Northern Ireland than more built-up areas like the South East, London, which have been trying to "chase diesel cars out of town".
He noted that NI is also blessed with the Consumer Council's Fuel Price Checker, which he said has had a much greater influence in keeping pump prices here down than the threat of a UK probe by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in GB.
Yesterday, diesel across the UK averaged 147p while in NI it averaged 137.7p - with some areas dropping as low as 130p, he said.
The petrol-diesel price gap had been shrinking since December albeit not as fast as the gap at wholesale level.
“Either way, it’s a big relief for rural drivers and business. The question now is whether those lower transport costs are impacting on consumer prices for deliveries and goods,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reported today that UK supermarkets have cut more than 7p a litre from the price of diesel since the UK’s competition watchdog warned it would question retail bosses about unnecessarily high forecourt prices, according to the RAC.
The motoring group found that the average price of diesel fell by 7.44p a litre, from 151.02p two weeks ago to 143.58p this week, after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) raised concerns that retailers were making “sustained higher margins” from sales of diesel.The RAC said supermarkets had quickened the pace of their diesel price cuts, which have lagged behind the fall in energy markets in recent months.