As gas prices soar, expect misery at the pumps too
BUSINESSES and households in the north, already burdened with three increases in their energy bills this year, can expect more price pain as wholesale gas prices hit new record highs yesterday.
And there'll be misery for road-users too, with petrol prices likely to reach all-time highs before Christmas.
Natural gas prices have now doubled in the last two weeks and are around 14 times higher than they were last summer.
Every gas and electricity supplier in Northern Ireland has passed on hefty increases in recent months, in some cases by as much as 35 per cent.
But consumer groups predict it won't end here, because on Wednesday the UK gas price traded as high as 400p a therm (it was just 60p a therm at the start of the year).
Oil prices are also camped above $80 per barrel after producers' cartel OPEC failed to increase output.
The boss of one medium-sized firm in Co Tyrone told the Irish News: “From what I'm hearing, more than half of all manufacturers in Northern Ireland expect to raise their prices in the run-up to Christmas after being hit by mounting cost pressures.”
This was echoed by the British Chambers of Commerce, which said inflation expectations had risen to their highest since its records began , with 62 per cent of industrial firms planning price hikes over the next three months.
Meanwhile motoring organisations confirmed yesterday that the average price of a full tank was already about £12 higher in September than a year earlier.
Both petrol and diesel had already reached levels last seen in autumn 2013 and were closing in on the all-time record set in April 2012, the RAC said. Petrol was less than 6p below the record of 142.48p a litre.
Unleaded petrol rose by 1.5p in September to 136.83p a litre, 22p more expensive than last year, while diesel rose by 2.5p to 139.25p, a rise of 21p on 2020 prices.
This took the cost of filling a 55-litre tank to £75.26 for petrol and £76.59 for diesel – for each about £12 more than last year.