Consumers fill up their tanks as oil prices plummet

Home heating oil is at its cheapest level for seven years.
Home heating oil is at its cheapest level for seven years.

Customers in the borough have been filling up their tanks after home heating oil prices hit a seven-year low.

Five hundred litres of oil was priced as £129 last week with a thousand litres costing as low as £234 - something unimaginable a few years ago.

Prices are falling because Saudi Arabia and Russia have refused to cut oil production despite falling demand.

It’s another boon for local consumers coming as it does only weeks after the price of petrol slipped below £1 a litre - and stayed there - for the first time in eight years.

And this week local oil companies described the falling heating oil prices as “fantastic news for customers” and said it was the perfect time to order a re-fill.

“With prices so low people are no longer ordering two or three hundred litres, they are filling up their tanks, ordering 500 or a thousand litres,” said Eamon McNulty, Regional Manager for Trolan Fuels.

“It’s a big contrast to a few years ago when the prices were high. Today 500 litres will cost you £129, the lowest in five years. In 2012 the same amount would have cost you £334 whereas now you can get a thousand litres for £234.”

Mr McNulty said that the dark days of the high prices had forced consumers to buy 20 litre drums from garage forecourts at much higher prices.

“Those days are gone and as a local company we are embracing the low prices. It’s fantastic that people can heat their home for so much less than they did before.”

He revealed that Trolans staff had taken a City and Guilds qualification in Energy Efficiency to pass advice onto customers.

“As a company we feel a responsibility to pass on advice on cavity wall insulation, cutting out drafts from doors and windows and encouraging consumers to replace inefficient boilers.

“How long your fuel lasts depends on how fuel efficient your home is and all our staff are happy to advise our customers on how to save money and keep their houses warm.”

Derek McAuley, Regional Manager with Kelly Fuels, which employs six drivers and seven staff at Coleraine and Londonderry Depots, said customers were taking full advantage of the savings.

“We had a great run around November with so many customers ordering a complete re-fill because of the cheap prices.

“When prices were high we were selling two hundred and three hundred litres to customers, now it’s 500 litres and a thousand litres.”

Mr McAuley added that he expected prices to remain low but be “subject to fluctuation for the foreseeable future.”

“Prices are affected by many things and we are due to have some Siberian weather which could affect Europe, the UK and Ireland during the second half of January and we could see more orders coming in then.

“Nowadays people are a lot more energy conscious, insulating their homes and using better boilers and that impacts upon how much oil they use.”

Customers are also advised to paying by debit rather than credit card to avoid surcharges imposed by credit card companies.

Renewed hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran, two global oil producers, might had been expected to boost a weak oil price.

But while both the US and international benchmarks did surge as much as 4 per cent last Monday, this proved to be short-lived and Brent crude, the gauge that defines prices around the world and for exports from the North Sea, hit a new 11-year low around $35.70 a barrel.

And so the advice from local heating oil companies is to stock up now - and take full advantage.