Discontent as gas bills stay same while oil prices plummet

Gas prices have remained static while oil prices have fallen dramatically
Gas prices have remained static while oil prices have fallen dramatically

Gas customers in Derry have queried why their energy bills haven’t budged while the price of home heating oil has plummeted.

One local man said it was unfair that gas prices had not changed here, while in Britain gas prices had been falling.

He said: “Questions need to be asked because it doesn’t seem fair to be honest.

“The local companies have been very muted about passing on these so-called savings resulting from the prices coming down.

“I live here in a block of flats and we are all talking about it, all singing from the same hymn sheet. “The prices are coming down across the UK and the oil prices are way down, so why not for us?”

Firmus Energy- which supplies Derry and the wider north west region with gas- said that this was largely down to the fact that the gas companies in Northern Ireland were regulated and prices fixed twice a year.

A spokesperson for the company told the Journal: “Oil and natural gas are bought in global markets and prices can be volatile and fluctuate dramatically from day to day and week to week depending on global conditions.

“The oil industry in Northern Ireland is not regulated and these dramatic price fluctuations can pass straight through to customers, day by day and week by week, often making it hard to budget and creating uncertainty for future prices.

“In contrast, the Natural Gas industry in Northern Ireland is regulated. Every six months the price that domestic and small business customers pay is set and agreed with the Utility Regulator.

“The price review process, combined with the ’forward’ buying strategies that we use, smooth out dramatic increases and decreases in natural gas prices.”

She added: “In line with the regulatory process we have already started our price review for April 2015 to September 2015 and we will continue to provide customers with our lowest possible natural gas prices going forward.