Retailers fear cross-border exodus of customers as UK pump prices break new records
Northern Ireland’s fuel suppliers fear they will see a surge of customers crossing the border to load up on fuel as UK pump prices climbed to fresh records.
The RAC said pump prices broke records once again on Wednesday.
Fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “The average price of both petrol and diesel climbed to new records again on Wednesday.
“Unleaded is now 159.57p a litre while diesel increased by another 2p to 167.37p – making for a rise of more than 5p in two days. A tank of petrol is now almost £88 while diesel has now gone over £92.”
Diesel appears to be on a clear path to £1.70 a litre, he said.
“As this is an average price, drivers will be seeing some unbelievably high prices on forecourts as retailers pass on their increased wholesale costs,” he said.
“But there was a hint of better news yesterday on the wholesale market with substantial drops in both petrol and diesel which could lead, in a week or so, to a slight slowing in the daily pump price increases and records being broken less frequently.”
Retailers in Northern Ireland say they expect to see an exodus of thousands of customers heading across the border to fill up at cheaper forecourts following the Republic’s announcement of excise duty cuts of 20c per litre on petrol and 15c per litre of diesel.
Garry Jennings, of Jennings Fuels and Lubricants in Fermanagh border village Kesh, said people won’t buy fuel locally unless the system is radically overhauled.
“It’s 21% cheaper in the south as it is, so if they cut duty by 20% that’ll make it around 40% cheaper,” he said.
“The UK government needs to consider the revenue it’s going to lose. There will be no revenue coming from people in Northern Ireland filling their lorries and cars in southern Ireland.
“We’re in a crisis. People can’t afford it. The Treasury needs to do something about that now. It’s going to be too late in a couple of months when lorry men, the haulage industry and buses are all parked. In rural Fermanagh, we depend on the road.”
Mr Jennings said the government needs to consider the revenue they’re going to lose by not reducing VAT and duty.
“It’s a no brainer. If they don’t reduce the duty and the taxes, everybody will go to southern Ireland and they’ll get nothing.”
Meanwhile, John Donaghy, from Donaghy’s Filling Station in Muff, Co Donegal, said he expects more drivers from Northern Ireland to cross the border for fuel.
“The cut in fuel excise duty will lead to a bigger price differential so it’s likely that motorists will go to wherever is selling the cheapest fuel,” he said.
Levies and excise south of the border currently account for 47% of diesel costs and 52% of petrol. The Republic’s reduction will stay in place until August 31 and is expected to cost €320 million.