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National Payments Strategy – Public consultation – IPRA Response

13th February 2024
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The Irish Petrol Retailers Association [IPRA] makes the following set of submissions in relation to the National Payments Strategy on behalf of our members, being forecourt operators and retailors across the country.

The IPRA understand that “the overarching goal of the NPS is to enhance and build public trust in, and the effectiveness of, the payments system” and that four key principles will guide this work, being:

· Access and Choice – promoting reasonable options for consumers and small business.

· Security and Resilience – of the payments system and system operators.

· Innovation and Inclusion – future focus that enhances interoperability and inclusion.

· Sustainability and Efficiency – solutions that have regard to cost / benefit and the environment.

We also note the scope of the NPS as “primarily focused on the experiences of, and outcome for, consumers and small business within the retail payment system”.

The IPRA does not believe the Minister for Finance should be given the necessary power to require certain classes of firms, sectors or sub-sectors to accept or facilitate (to whatever level) the acceptance of cash. We believe that, if required as part of the NPS, the only class of business that the Minister for Finance should be given the necessary power to require to accept or facilitate the acceptance of cash is for public bodies, and not for private enterprise.

We note the European Commission has suggested “healthcare, supermarkets, post offices and pharmacies” and that the public consultation has refrained from suggesting sectors in the Irish marketplace but please note in this context the only sector that the Minister for Finance could perhaps be given the necessary power over should be public services or perhaps solely An Post.

The IPRA has set out it’s submission responses below, noting, we have only responded to questions we believe relevant to our trade association and its members, being “small businesses” for the context of the scope of the NPS.

6.1 Do you believe there is, or there may be, a trend emerging of non-acceptance of cash in

Ireland? Where or in what circumstances have you experienced this?

We do not believe this is the case for our industry, being petrol stations across the country. We believe this would be a deterrent to customers and therefore businesses would not choose to go down this route of not accepting cash. We believe that cash will always be accepted in service stations across the country and therefore it does not need the Minister to have the power to require the acceptance of cash.

Some of the larger supermarkets have “card only” tills, presumably this is to speed up transactions and get queues moving faster. They have continued to also provide self-check out “cash tills as well so no one in society is being left out.

The majority of our member stations still have employees physically present at the tills so the cash or card payment method takes roughly the same amount of time and therefore deciding to not accept cash would not be a decision retailers would be taking anyway. Some members offer card or card and cash payment at their pumps. This decision has been made to reduce costs (for service stations without shops attached to the pumps) or where there is a shop has been implemented to prevent fuel theft.

There is no evidence whatsoever of fuel retailers being reluctant to accept cash.

6.2 Do you agree with the principle of universal cash acceptance? Or do you believe it can be

limited to certain critical classes of payment?

We believe, cash will remain in society for a variety of reasons, further we believe if it were to become limited to certain classes then this surely should be only to public state related bodies.

6.3 Do you believe it remains appropriate or necessary to ensure acceptance of cash as a form of payment?

Yes, but we don’t believe the Minister should have the power to demand this.

6.4 Do you believe you have enough choice as to how you can pay for everyday goods and services?


6.5 If monitoring shows that the acceptance of cash is inadequate, what should be considered when developing remedial measures?

Focus on public services, public transport, local authority fees, An Post, TV license payment, NCT testing centres, Recycling centres, National museums entrance fees etc.

Research shows the breakup of spending to be 45% retail, 38% services, 14% social and 3% miscellaneous. This mix shows the importance of cash remaining in use both in retail and services as a fairly close mix. Thus, any decision to focus solely on mandating the usage of cash in healthcare, supermarkets, post offices and pharmacies would make no sense given the high percentage also spend in services. Targeting solely essential retail makes no sense as even the vulnerable non tech users in society spend their money also on services and social requirements so any mandate must include other businesses outside of the essential retail services sector. There is enough choice for people to use various methods of payment.

Cash is expensive to interact with as a retail business. There is a cost to safely store this on site, protect employees from any threat of cash theft or attempted cash theft while working, cost to transfer cash to and from banks and the time spend by employees counting each working till throughout the day to make sure it balances. None of these costs are associated to the same extent with electronic payments. Yet, retailers still take cash and will continue to do so but should not be mandated to do so as this would be an impediment on their right to run their business as they choose (nothing that it would be very unlikely for essential retailers to stop taking cash for the reasons already set out above).

In the instance that the Minister were to get and use the power to mandate cash acceptance of our members stores there would most likely need to be a subsidy offered for providing this service if it ever came to the point in the future (which we cannot foresee at the present time) where it was not worth the retailers’ expenses to continue to accept cash. This would be due to potential increases in the cost of keeping cash and employees handling cash safe and transporting this cash to banks regularly. Again, this is not something we can foresee but should be borne in mind in case cash use was to be mandated only for a specific sector.

5.5 Within the Access to Cash legislation, what factors should be considered when the distance and population density criteria are met in order to identify if a local deficiency exists? How should this be addressed?

This should be addressed by re-opening and maintaining existing An Post offices throughout the country. Compelling frontline retail only to accept cash raises costs for frontline retail. If cash acceptance is, in fact, to be mandated by the Minister (whom the IPRA believes should not be given this power at all) then it should be compelled for all businesses, off licences, coffee shops, GAA events, concerts, festivals, public services, hospitals, professionals etc. This cannot be just another hit on frontline retail.

There would also need to be mandates on the banks to provide and properly maintain more ATMs across the country even in rural areas. The banks are leaving the ATM space and there are only 9 private ATM operators in the country. Presumably the banks are leaving the space because it is not profitable so any mandating placed on the private ATM operators will only increase their costs of doing business which will firstly, raise the costs on retailers are they pass these costs off and eventually will push the private ATM operators out of the market also. This will be detrimental to the entire goal of the NPS.

If this plan did proceed to just hit frontline retail in order to address local deficiencies, then there would need to be a very large concession made to frontline retailers in the form of a large reduction in bank fees and additional subsidies for the cost of businesses being required to handle cash.

5.6 Have you (as a consumer or small business) experienced barriers to access to cash? If so, what are they? What would be helpful to counter these?

No, as consumers. Cash is expensive to handle as a small business. Often frontline retailers end up needing to buy cash in order to fill ATMs. This urgency comes because the local bank ATMs run out of cash and customers needing access to cash need to use the frontline retailers ATM. This rush on cash places significant pressure on retailers ATM machines and costs them money to keep the cash stocked in the ATM. The banks should be compelled to have a maximum fill on their ATMs at weekends, bank holidays and Christmas etc. to help to prevent the rush on ATMs in retail shops.

By way of example, AIB charges one IPRA member 45 cents per Eur100 for handling their cash. This needs to be massively reduced in order to decrease the barrier to accessing cash for retailers.

Public bodies have an obligation to act efficiently in their duties to minimise their impact on the taxpayer and provide a high quality services. While doing so they must also provide fair access to public services. Therefore, ensuring a balance between efficiency and access by the public is important.

6.6 What is your view on the levels of acceptance of cash in Ireland by public bodies for public services?

Not many public services accept cash. For the vulnerable, older, with lower income levels, limited digital or low literacy skills or those without internet access. etc. in society expending the cash acceptance levels of public services would be the quickest and easiest way to solve the access to cash issue.

6.9 Should all public services have an obligation to accept or facilitate the acceptance of cash?

Yes, and certainly before mandating frontline retail to accept cash. The Minister should only be given the power to mandate this for public services.

is there a sub-set of essential services that should be obliged to accept cash payments?

Yes, An Post and GPs.

Annex 4 – About you

1.  What is your name

Orla Allen

2.  What is your email address?

3.  I am responding as:

A representative of an organisation

4.  If you are responding on behalf of an organisation, please enter your organisation name

here: Irish Petrol Retailers Association

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IPRA calls for Excise Increases to be stopped…

23rd January 2024
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The Irish Petrol Retailers Association has launched a petition calling on the Irish Government and Minister for Finance Michael McGrath to immediately STOP the planned increase in excise in both petrol and diesel motor fuel due to take place on the 31st March 2024.

We have already seen the biofuel cost increase by 2cpl in the New Year and if the proposed increases go ahead at the end of March fuel costs will increase by a further 8cpl (petrol) and 6cpl (diesel).

This increase will hit everyone in the pocket. From the individuals driving to work, families taking children to childcare, school and activities, and numerous businesses and station owners who provide local flexible employment in many towns and villages across the country.

The border counties will be hit worst as fuel will become approximately 22cpl cheaper in Northern Ireland for petrol and 10cpl for diesel. Fuel tourism will decimate border towns and villages as petrol stations will lose forecourt and shop customers. Many will need to cut staff hours, local jobs will be lost, and local money will leave towns and villages heading North.

David Blevings, spokesperson for IPRA said, “We have asked our members to place petitions on the counter tops in retail sites and ask customers to complete same. We believe we can show Minister McGrath that we have the full backing of Irish citizens behind our request. Our message is simple, “Help us to save you money and keep local businesses open”.


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19th January 2024
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The Irish Petrol Retailers Association is today launching a petition calling on the Irish Government and Minister for Finance Michael McGrath to immediately STOP the planned increase in excise in both petrol and diesel motor fuel due to take place on the 31st March 2024.

We have already seen the biofuel cost increase by 2cpl in the New Year and if the proposed increases go ahead at the end of March fuel costs will increase by a further 8cpl (petrol) and 6cpl (diesel).

This increase will hit everyone in the pocket. From the individuals driving to work, families taking children to childcare, school and activities, and numerous businesses and station owners who provide local flexible employment in many towns and villages across the country.

The border counties will be hit worst as fuel will become approximately 22cpl cheaper in Northern Ireland for petrol and 10cpl for diesel. Fuel tourism will decimate border towns and villages as petrol stations will lose forecourt and shop customers. Many will need to cut staff hours, local jobs will be lost, and local money will leave towns and villages heading North.


Please ask your staff and customers to sign and share this petition before 1st March 2024 so the IPRA can show Minister McGrath that we have the full backing of Irish citizens behind our request. Help us to save you money and keep businesses open.

Link: HERE – online petition to be signed and shared via your social media platforms. 

If we all work together, we can stop these increases. Any questions please contact the office and send completed sheets by scan and pdf to office@ipra,ie or by post to;

Irish Petrol Retailers Association
Ashgrove House
26 Foxrock court
Dublin 18

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IPRA calls for Deposit Return Scheme to be ‘paused’ ahead of 1st Feb launch date…..

19th January 2024
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The Irish Petrol Retailers Association are today making a last ditch effort calling for a delay to the launch
on the Deposit Re-Turn Scheme [DRS]. Many may ask what is the DRS and don’t yet realise how it will
affect them despite a launch date of 1st February 2024.

The very recently launched ads on the TV don’t seem to full convey the impact the scheme may have on
consumers’ pockets and on small independent retailers. Many of the answers are unknown even to
retailers who are part of the scheme. From 1st February the public will pay a deposit on all plastic bottles
and both aluminium and steel cans between 150mls and 3 litres. The deposit ranges from 15c up to 25c
per container. The refund you receive for this container is provided in the form of a voucher for the shop
where you can claim your credit in store or cash return from the store.
While the IPRA isn’t against the scheme, we do believe that similar to the pause taken in Scotland
last year, more work needs to be done to ensure it runs smoothly and fairly for all retailers and a
delay now would benefit the scheme in the long run.

We believe consumers need more time to get themselves ready; realising the price they pay at the till will
increase (until they claim their refund), find another bin for their containers, train themselves and their
household members up on rinsing and saving containers, and to give themselves time to work out where
their closest reverse vending machine is located.
While multinational retailers will have been prepping for this for some time and many have seen how it
works in other countries, for many independent Irish owned retailers the scheme is new and
communication from Re-Turn has been allegedly poor, particularly when it comes to importing any
product from outside Ireland. There are also issues regarding till and accounting software packages
accounting for these deposits and whether Revenue will have any additional requirements is yet to be

One IPRA forecourt retailer has informed us that “Not only will it affect small businesses, but it will also
make the cost of alcohol on some lines anti-competitive. Some shops with large volumes can access brands at a discounted price, while others are tied to stock that’s only available to their shop model. Also having to direct your customer to the nearest Re-Turn point be that at your local multinational supermarket or some other location will lead to loss of business and potentially job losses”.
For border counties there are also concerns customers will cross the border to buy soft drinks and alcohol where the deposit won’t be required.
Given all the issues set out above (and we are sure there are more which will become apparent over time) and in light of the impending deadline, the IPRA call on Government to do the sensible thing and to delay the launch of the Scheme until it can be reviewed properly and until all stakeholders can meet and work through the many uncertainties involved in such a Scheme.

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Cancellation of Scheduled Motor Fuel Increase – Save Border County Stations

19th December 2023
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14 December 2023

Michael McGrath TD
Minister for Finance
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2

Dear Minister McGrath

On behalf of the Irish Petrol Retailers Association [IPRA] we are writing to you today to request the immediate suspension of the planned increase in excise on motor fuel scheduled under Budget 2024 for both 1st April and 1st August 2024. We urgently and respectfully seek a meeting with Minister McGrath TD on behalf of our members as soon as possible.
We represent independent service stations nationwide and we are particularly worried about the implications of the proposed duty increases on the 31st of March 2024 of 8cpl on unleaded and 6cpl on diesel. On top of these proposed increases, the biofuel obligation scheme will add another 2c incl VAT to both diesel and unleaded from 1st of January 2024. This is not being reciprocated in the UK.
By August 2024 there will be a further c.10cpl added to a litre of fuel in comparison to the UK/NI prices. Presently, border sites are already 12cpl more expensive than sites in Enniskillen and Omagh.
If the proposed excise increases go ahead in 2024, it will mean border stations will be c.22cpl more expensive than Northern Ireland on unleaded fuel and c.10cpl more expensive for diesel. This will lead to fuel tourism along the border sites. One of our members has already indicated that if this does go ahead, he will most likely have to make full scale redundancies of 20+ employees and relocate their business to their Northern Ireland site.
This is not sustainable and by the time the second scheduled increase comes into force on 1st August 2024 stations will be forced to start shutting their doors. This will lead to more unemployment in border counties and has a knock-on effect of other local businesses closing as fuel tourists will be spending their money elsewhere and jobs will have disappeared in local towns. It needs to be stopped now.
We have been contacted by many of our members who will be affected by these excise increases, many are already struggling to keep their doors open with increased cost of doing business (commercial rates increases, minimum wage increases, insurance, lower sales from cost-of-living crisis and so on).
Businesses operating close to the border will be decimated if these increases are not stopped. There are many votes to be gained by helping our member stations now BEFORE it is too late.

Please confirm receipt of this letter and note we are available to discuss the above in more detail with Minister McGrath at any time, even remotely if that suits.
We look forward to hearing from the Minister and would like to express our sincere gratitude for all support and assistance on this matter in advance. We will ensure every one of our member stations are aware of the support we receive on this issue and if Minister McGrath wishes we could include an interview with him on this issue in the March edition of our magazine Forecourt and Retail News which goes in both hard and soft copy to every station owner and senior management in all of the major oil companies across the country.
Yours sincerely,

Michael Griffin
Irish Petrol Retailers Association

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IPRA gives cautious welcome to Budget 2024

10th October 2023
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The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) welcomed the Finance Ministers decision to postpone the excise increase that was due to be implemented on the 31st October.

The increase would have raised retail fuel prices by a further 8cpl on petrol and 6cpl on diesel.

IPRA spokesperson, David Blevings said, “IPRA wrote to the Minister pointing out the difficulties that the restoration of duty would cause on both consumers and retail sites near the border and we are pleased that he has decided to postpone the excise increase. Wholesale oil costs have increased significantly in recent months pushing retail prices higher and the delay in this increase will be welcomed by consumers and retail site owners close to the border.

If the increase had been applied, stations along the border could have seen their business decimated as we estimate a differential of up to 14cpl on petrol and 6cpl on diesel would have applied compared to retail sites in Northern Ireland. While the postponement is good news and short term relief for customers we would advocate that the excise structure requires a review to ensure stations near the border are competitive with retail sites in another jurisdiction and to mitigate against the current high costs for both businesses and consumers, added David.


Notes for Editors

The Government did recognise the impact that rising fuel costs would have on consumers and

introduced excise reductions of 21cpl on a litre of unleaded and 16cpl on diesel back in March 2022.

However, those cuts were set to end as the duty is reintroduced over a five-month period to the end of

October this year.

The first increase of 6cpl for petrol and 5cpl for diesel was introduced in June 2023 and the second increase on 1st September and 31st October saw rates increase by 7cpl for petrol.

and 5cpl for diesel. On 31st October the Government had planned to fully restore duty rates with a further increase of 8cpl for petrol and 6cpl for diesel.

The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) is the industry body representing the interests of independent petrol retailers in Ireland.

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Government goes ahead with Petrol and Diesel Excise increases tomorrow….

31st August 2023
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The Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) is disappointed that the Government is continuing to implement the scheduled increase on fuel excise duty on 1st September. “When global oil costs are increasing, now is not the time to stretch struggling families and businesses even further. This the second of three scheduled increases that the Government had planned and will almost certainly negate any work that has been done to decrease back-to-school costs for families as they will be paying more for transport. In the run up towards Christmas, families are struggling enough without paying more for their fuel. Many have no alternatives but to use their cars for work and to get children to and from school and childcare”, said David Blevings, spokesperson for the IPRA.

“There is a further increase scheduled for the 1st of November 2023. If this increase goes ahead stations along the border will be forced to close as there will be a differential of up to 14cpl on petrol and 6cpl on Diesel compared to stations in Northern Ireland. We believe consumers will be forced to make the economic decision to cross the border to fuel and other purchases to save money and this could ruin local border communities”.

“We believe the further increase must be cancelled”, added David.

IPRA member and forecourt owner in Ballyshannon/Belleek (Donegal border) Terry Hughes said, “unfortunately I will have to close my doors at the end of September. Border fuel stations will not survive after this. We currently employ 25 people in an already deprived area. These people will be made redundant. There has been no thought given to these employees or the businesses which are hubs in these border communities”.

The IPRA has been told by the Department of Finance that this issue will be reviewed in the October Budget, and we urgently call on the Department to cancel the next scheduled increase due on 1st November 2023.

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IPRA calls time on rates and energy costs…

14th September 2022
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Everyone assumes that high fuel prices equal massive profits for forecourts – nothing could be further from the truth.

As a nation, we have all seen prices rising almost daily, mostly because of the war in Ukraine which has severely impacted energy costs and the knock-on effect that this has had in manufacturing and supply chains. This has affected the way we all shop, and consumers have understandably tightened their belts as inflation has decreased their money’s purchasing power.

What we can’t see quite so visibly is that when we all make our own cutbacks, by switching to cheaper brands, driving less, and making a sandwich at home, is the massive impact this has on the local business. The local community forecourt provides essential services to Irish families by providing them with local access to everyday food basics and much needed ‘grab and go’ food items for people spending time on the roads. However, with ever increasing costs, the viability of the retail forecourt could well be in question.

Members are reporting huge hikes in energy costs; one member reported an electricity increase of 190% which equates to an additional €2,750.00 per week or €140,000 per year.

The cost of buying stock, food and consumables is increasing and yet consumers understandably aren’t willing to pay more for these products or services. Retailers can only reduce margins so far before they are offering a service that is costing the business money – that is not sustainable.

To add to the increased costs facing retailers, the Valuations Office has just issued a revaluation order for businesses in Clare, Donegal, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Galway, Kerry and Mayo County Council and Galway City Council. This will revalue properties at 1st February 2022 (notably prior to the breakout of war in Ukraine and destabilising factors Europe has since faced) and rates bills will inevitably increase.

The retail sector has been campaigning for several years asking the Valuation Office for an equitable rate calculation methodology.  One IPRA member advises that alongside all the other costs of doing business, their county council rates bill has risen from €4,000 to €17,000 in to the past two years. They claim that ‘Government needs to urgently review the actual cost of rates as they believe their business cannot survive with this level of cost increase’.

The IPRA is behind its members and is calling on Government to aid the forecourt sector before it’s too late.  As part of its ‘Budget Submission’, the IPRA is calling for;

•             Inclusion of forecourt fuel and food retailers into all existing and any future business support schemes and regulatory assistance including the Government’s electricity account credit and any future schemes.

•             Forecourts should also be eligible for the Government’s €55m Green Transition fund.

•             We need to develop a rebate for our sector when energy costs as a percentage of turnover increase over predefined thresholds.

•             Develop a fairer way to calculate council rates for businesses in our sector as the current methodology using turnover, does not work for our low margin product and service business.

•             We would advocate that a commercial rates ‘holiday’ is urgently required to prevent numerous small businesses from folding this winter. Rate payments can be reviewed in Spring 2023.

•             We need to see clear guidelines on the provision of solar PV (to assist reduction energy costs) and remove the need for planning permission urgently.

•             On-site generation should be incentivised, and we need Government to provide new financial support to help businesses invest in on-site energy generation.

•             As we see a massive spike in drive offs, due to the high price of fuel, we would ask Government to urgently allow a nominated third party to access the NVDF (National Vehicle and Drive File) database to engage with potential fuel theft offenders to chase fuel payments, as we know a similar scheme in GB has returned an 80% payment rate.

David Blevings from IPRA said, “We cannot overstate how important it is to keep the lights on and doors open at petrol stations across the country. Without Government intervention and assistance there is a real chance that some forecourts will close. Others may start reducing opening hours and or cutting staff costs. Forecourts are major local employers and any reduction in opening hours will only affect local employment and force locals (already under pressure with the spiralling cost of living) to travel further afield to buy their daily basics”.

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IPRA responds to negative press about fuel price increases

10th March 2022
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The heightened geo-political tensions resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the package of economic sanctions imposed by the West in response, means that we have seen unprecedented increases in prices for crude oil and refined petroleum products (petrol & diesel).

Responding to negative press coverage about increased prices, David Blevings said, “It is important that consumers understand what is happening and realise that these circumstances are not within the control of local fuel retailers.

On the 1st February Brent crude was trading at $89.16/barrel and by 8th March it had risen to $127.98/barrel. In refined product cost terms that meant diesel jumped 76% and unleaded by almost 50% – that’s whey we are seeing diesel more expensive than petrol currently.

There is a misconception that retailers have stock in their tanks from weeks ago that was bought at a ‘cheaper’ price. The reality is most sites across Ireland purchase fuel daily and operate on a previous day market closing price. So, if the market is trading up and closed €0.20cpl higher last night your purchase price for collection at the terminal the following day is up by the same amount.   A forecourt operating on a previous day price must pass on these cost increases immediately. Not doing so would be commercial suicide, but this volatility leads to big price differences at the pole sign as we have seen in recent days!

In terms of claims that some stations did not pass on the excise reduction announced by Government on Wednesday, remember that any fuel already in the station’s tanks had paid the duty at the higher rate – businesses can’t simply take a hit of 15cpl & 20cpl on fuel – to do so would mean they were selling the fuel at a loss – not a great business proposition.

No-one likes inflated prices, even retailers and the good news on top of the reduced excise rate is that OPEC has signalled that the cartel may be able to increase production given that many countries are trying to phase out Russian supplies – any increase in production from OPEC and Saudi Arabia is to be welcome and may yet help stabilise the market”, added David.

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IPRA responds to global oil price increase…

25th February 2022
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Oil prices breached $100/barrel earlier this week on the news that war had broken out in Ukraine. David Blevings, spokesperson for the IPRA said,” Prices were already inflated, driven by strong demand from unprecedented economic growth and a lack lustre approach to increasing stocks from OPEC members. World oil stocks are at a seven-year low, and the breakout of War in Ukraine adds a huge unknown into the market.

Any sort of predictions on future pricing are currently unreliable as there are too many factors at play. The market has retreated slightly today (Friday) after spiking higher mid-week on the news that war had broken out and we are likely to see some further spikes depending on what happens on the war front.

Unfortunately, these increases in global pricing will translate into increased wholesale and retail fuel costs. The retailer has no option to pass on these costs to consumers as they are all independent businesses who must make a profit to survive and pay overheads, including staff wages.

We have today asked Government to reduce fuel duty by 10cpl for a period of six months to help consumers already dealing with recent increases in food and energy costs. On a positive note, with these inflated global oil prices we would expect to see the US, China and Japan releasing some of their strategic oil reserves to supplement any reduced supply and hopefully, that could soften the blow of increasing costs”

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