Fuelling the black market: Traders hit by high prices and illegal trade

IN response to our recent article about the variation in fuel prices in Dundalk and mid-Louth, Mr David Blevings of the Irish Petrol Retailers Association has said the article gave the impression that consumers are paying over the odds for their fuel due to price differences across the county and this is not the case.

IN response to our recent article about the variation in fuel prices in Dundalk and mid-Louth, Mr David Blevings of the Irish Petrol Retailers Association has said the article gave the impression that consumers are paying over the odds for their fuel due to price differences across the county and this is not the case.

“Fuel retailing is a very low margin business with many legitimate traders struggling to survive in the current economic climate,” Mr Blevings said.

“The retailers have no control over increasing wholesale costs as oil is a globally traded product.

“The majority share of the pump price goes to Government (c.60%) in excise duty and VAT.

“As well as higher prices a major problem facing the legitimate trade right across Ireland currently is the serious increase in the number of stations now allegedly offering laundered fuel.

“This is usually gasoil for agricultural use which has had the dye removed and is passed off as genuine diesel.

“As we know from our colleagues at SIMI (Society of the Irish Motor Industry) it is proven that adulterated fuel can cause damage to the modern diesel engine as it may have been blended with another product, possibly acid during the filtering process that may cause injector faults and damage seals in the engine.

“According to SIMI, garages all over the country are reporting more vehicles with damage as a result of using laundered fuel and unfortunately when the fuel is tested and found to be abused then these faults may not be covered by warranty”.

“Following serious lobbying by the legitimate trade, Revenue is now taking this issue very seriously with a new audit scheme tracking the sale of fuel from point of import to retail sale being introduced from January 2013. In tandem a new licensing regime has been introduced and the industry believes that this will benefit the legitimate trader greatly.

“Motorists worried about fuel quality or pricing should report anything suspicious to their local Revenue office.

“In addition, consumers can ask the forecourt operator if they are a member of a trade association, if they have a current Auto Fuel Licence and where they are purchasing their fuel from”, said Mr Blevings said.