Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (169)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

169. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which he directly or through the aegis of the regulator continues to monitor the prices of diesel and petrol at filling stations; if current prices reflect the reduction of prices of oil on the international markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45553/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Irish oil industry is fully privatised, liberalised and deregulated and there is free entry to the market. There is no price control and it is Government policy to encourage price competition and consumer choice. Neither I nor the Commission for Energy Regulation has a statutory function in the regulation of petrol and diesel prices.

The upward trend in petrol and diesel prices arises primarily from increases in international commodity prices over which Ireland has no control. For example, the benchmark spot price of a barrel of Brent Crude Oil has risen from an average of US$58 in February 2007 to an average of US$110 in October 2013. This has inevitably resulted in an increase in retail petrol and diesel prices. Previous surveys have shown that prices charged by Irish retailers for oil products relate to the refinery price rather than to the price of crude oil. Prices at the pump reflect volatile market prices, transportation costs, trends in euro/dollar exchange rates and other operating costs, together with the impact of taxation on oil products.

My focus is on measures that will increase penetration of renewable energy resources in the area of transport. The Biofuel Obligation Scheme incentivises and enables the sustainable growth of an Irish biofuels market. The Scheme currently requires that the amount of biofuel brought to the market is not less than 6.38% of petroleum road transport fuels. In 2012 some 128 million litres of biofuel were brought to the Irish market. Additionally, the development of electric vehicles offers potential for Ireland to use cheaper grid sourced electricity. These opportunities will progressively reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels for transport, while supporting energy competitiveness and security.