No abuse by fuel suppliers says OFT

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has failed to prove that fuel suppliers are abusing their position in Shetland and other rural areas.

Whilst the OFT did find a large differential between island pump prices and those on the mainland, there was no evidence of a distortion of competition.  However, a door has been left open for consumers to provide evidence which may point to market distortion.

A report before the Shetland council transport body said the OFT was writing to those who had made “unsubstantiated statements” during the consultation period, advising them of the “relevant law and inviting them to provide specific evidence of any market distortion or abuse”.

The OFT found that higher prices and limited choice result from low sales volumes and weak competition, with some businesses having local monopolies. Its report to councillors acknowledges that the problems identified do not all fall within the OFT’s remit because, for example, they do not relate to illegal or anti-competitive behaviour.

OFT director Kyla Brand stated: “There is no quick-fix solution within the OFT’s powers but we have a part to play, alongside businesses, communities and government bodies.

“We have taken, and will continue to take, action ourselves to address these concerns and will share our report with government departments, local authorities, community groups and others to help ensure that this consultation informs policy discussions.”

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