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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
NI heating oil firms 'profiteering'
Northern Ireland prices rose within 24 hours of attacks
Northern Ireland prices rose within 24 hours of attacks
Northern Ireland's General Consumer Council has accused home heating oil suppliers of "profiteering" by raising prices following Tuesday's horrific terrorist attacks in America.

Chairman of the council Joan Whiteside said that just 24 hours after the attacks, customers were angry that oil providers in the province had raised prices on their existing stocks.

When the council checked the average price for 900 litres at the beginning of this week it was 172. By Thursday it had risen to 200.

Following the devastation of the New York World Trade Center's twin towers with the loss of thousands of lives on Tuesday, oil prices jumped nearly $4 a barrel in London, going above the $30 barrel mark.

Carrickfergus customer
Kate Dalzell was told she could not be guaranteed a sale price
The price of gold bullion jumped by $16 an ounce in London in panic buying after the attacks.

However, when trading resumed, the price of oil then fell back.

Mrs Whiteside said consumers wanted to know why that fall has not been reflected in domestic prices.


"Angry consumers have been ringing to ask us why oil has gone up so dramatically within 24 hours," she said.

"They are outraged that the oil industry is profiteering from the terrible events of Tuesday."

She added: "We cannot see justification for oil companies jacking up the price on existing oil stocks.

David Blevings il Promotion Federation
David Blevings: "Panic buying has made situation worse"
"The council demands the oil consumers get a fair deal."

Kate Dalzell, a customer in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, said: "The company I rang said it was 198 for 900 litres.

"I said I would order it at that price, if I had no other choice.

"But she said she could not guarantee that price at any stage, because as a result of the natural panic, they were booked up for a few days and the price might go up at any stage."

However, David Blevings of the Oil Promotion Federation said: "The stocks in Belfast are not owned by the local distributors. They are owned by the major companies including Shell, BP and Esso.

"The distributor pays for oil at the prices the major company wishes to charge.

"The major companies have raised their prices very quickly and the distributors have no option but to pass on the retail price."

He predicted the prices would soon drop, but added that the situation was not being helped by people panic buying.

See also:

12 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Assembly recall to discuss attacks
11 Sep 01 | Business
Oil and gold prices surge
24 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
NI 'pays more' at petrol pumps
10 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
Heating oil price soars
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