Some oil distributors have notices on their websites saying they are out of stock, with others removing prices from their sites.
But David Blevings, of the Northern Ireland Oil Federation, and Hick Hayes of UKIFDA, have confirmed that the issue is a short-term one with no reason to worry about supply.
No-one is going without
Speaking to Fuel Oil News on Friday 16 December David said: “Yes, we are low on kerosene, but a boat is due into Belfast today and should replenish stocks for next week’s deliveries.
“Many distributors are rationing consumers to 300 or 500 litres to maintain supply, but no one is going without oil currently.”
The high price of oil throughout the last few months has resulted in many householders holding off despite being urged to get their winter fuel orders in both by their distributors and by industry trade association UKIFDA. The sudden blast of arctic weather in the run up to the Christmas break has caused a significant spike in demand with homeowners effectively ‘panic buying’
Oil prices have also fallen recently as fears of a global recession and an increasing covid problem in China which have weakened demand which has also resulted in increased orders. The sudden surge in demand means that some households are experiencing longer than usual delivery windows with a number of distributors restricting deliveries to 500 or 300 litres, to ensure no customers go without.
With a boat also due into Dublin with significant supplies Nick Hayes was quick to reassure customers that they would not go without as he stressed that that was enough fuel to heat most homes for at least three months.
“I am not aware of a scarcity of supply. It is tight but we will manage,” he said.
Mr Hayes also observed that many customers have come to expect a next-day delivery when ordering home-heating oil, but that it is currently taking a few days to make deliveries due to the huge demand at the moment.
“The delivery times are longer than usual but there is enough fuel to heat most homes for at least three months.”
David also emphasised the work the federation is doing to avoid these short-term supply pressures happening in the future.
“We have asked the Department for Economy for a meeting in the New Year to discuss compulsory stock requirement to see if we can put a plan in place to include storage of heating oil in NI to prevent this situation reoccurring.
“The markets are in a very volatile state and products are having to be sourced from further afield which does affect supply lines. A just in time system normally works, but this year the cold weather snap has happened just before Christmas week putting extra strain on the delivery system.”