IRELAND is “by no means the worst-affected country” in terms of diesel prices, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Eamon Ryan has insisted.
Asked by opposition TDs what steps he would take to address the rising cost of the fuel, Mr Ryan admitted the issue was outside the Government’s control.
But he insisted that prices here were still relatively cheap compared with some other EU member states.
“EU price figure comparisons published on May 19, 2008, show that the average price of diesel in Ireland in April was €1.248 per litre. This price ranks as the eighth cheapest price out of the 27 EU member states reported by the EU on May 19,” said Mr Ryan.
“The average price of diesel in the UK in the same report was €1.561 per litre and the average EU price for diesel was €1.4 per litre. These comparisons demonstrate that Ireland is by no means the worst-affected country in Europe in relation to the price of diesel.”
Ireland’s high dependence on imported oil made the country “price takers”, sensitive to the volatility of the markets, he added.
“The price of oil, diesel or petrol, which is set on international markets, is outside our direct control. The Irish oil industry is fully privatised, liberalised and deregulated. There is free entry into the market. Prices at the pump reflect global market price, transportation costs, euro/dollar fluctuations and other operating costs.”
With the Government unable to influence prices directly, he said the coalition’s policy was concentrated on the promotion of competition, consumer choice and awareness.
“Petrol stations are required to display their prices in a clear manner, so that consumers can make an informed choice when purchasing fuel. Consumer protection is a matter for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and consumers can report any infringements of the law to the National Consumer Agency,” he said.
There were a number of factors that accounted for the higher price of diesel relative to petrol, he said.
“These include an increased demand for diesel in Europe as well as China and other developing economies. This has led to the European demand for diesel exceeding the supply from European refineries. Diesel is now being sourced from farther afield, particularly from Russia.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved