Dáil Éireann - Volume 476 - 13 March, 1997

Written Answers. - Energy Costs.

139. Mr. J. Walsh asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications his views on the increase in energy costs resulting from the price movement in diesel and petrol from March 1996 to date in 1997. [7198/97]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Stagg): Data available from the Central Statistics Office suggests that in the period November 1995 to November 1996 prices for unleaded petrol and auto diesel grew by 7 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. The Central Statistics Office have not yet issued date for the current year.

The changes indicated reflect upward movement in the price of crude oil, particularly in the latter half of 1996. Current market perception is that future oil prices will be lower than that experienced in late 1996.

Clearly it is in Ireland's interest that as a peripheral trading nation, we achieve the lowest possible energy prices. Low prices are essential to national competitiveness and export performance. Since 1990 Ireland has benefited from comparatively low oil prices in international markets. I would be hopeful that the volatility evident in 1996 will ease and that relatively low oil prices [889] in the 1990's will be maintained with consequent benefits to the Irish economy.