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Chairman of Office of Fair Trading clarifies situation in regard to fuel prices 1 October 2008

Following the report on the front page of this week’s Isle of Man Examiner the Office of Fair Trading wish to add additional comment to the article for public clarification.

The Chairman of OFT Bill Henderson said – ‘The article missed some important points and clearly the headline could lead the public to think that following the initial work we have been doing that we have found nothing wrong with petrol prices: this is simply not the case.’

‘We met with Shell UK on Friday the 26th of September. A frank and robust meeting was conducted. Shell UK’s representatives were very helpful, and supplied us with a summary of the financial information we requested. We were given information that suggests that this company is not making large profits. However I would like to make it perfectly clear that my comments were relating to this company at the point of wholesale only. OFT has a lot of work to do yet in analysing the current fuel cost situation here in the Isle of Man’.

Mr. Henderson went on – ‘I personally have instigated the series of meetings with the energy and fuel companies. I lead the meetings and certainly participate fully and robustly in them. These meetings are ongoing and there are more companies to be seen and second meetings with others to be organised’.

I want to be absolutely clear that I am not at all happy with the price of fuel, and the impact that it is having on people and businesses. That is why I have planned out this series of initial meetings with all the companies. I need to be in a position to advise consumers ultimately why our prices are the way they are. If there is any evidence of excessive pricing then obviously we will not hesitate to call for an inquiry under the Fair Trading Act, ‘Mr. Henderson continued.

In closing Mr. Henderson said – ‘Ultimately I may ask the Council of Ministers for permission to conduct a formal investigation. This would allow us to clearly inform the consumer as to understand the position here, to show whether or not they are being charged a fair price, albeit an expensive one and to present the pricing structures transparently. I have put this to the companies we have seen already. I want consumers to be properly informed and protected, especially in the current economic climate. ’

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