Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Looking to fill up your car with petrol in Ireland? I wish you the best of luck.
Never mind the long-standing suspicion among motorists that the majority of filling stations operate cartel pricing practices.
It's simply finding a petrol station that's becoming the problem these days. The Consumers Association is becoming concerned at the lack of competition in the petrol market, and their concern is mild compared to that of motorists.
Ten years ago there were 2,500 petrol stations in the Republic of Ireland. Today, there are fewer than half that number. And that's despite the fact that an average of 170,000 new cars have been registered in Ireland each year since 1999.
So, if we have many more cars on the road, why are there fewer petrol stations, rather than more?
One reason is property speculation. The ever-spiralling cost of property in Ireland has led many petrol station owners to cash in on the large footprint of their forecourts.
You'd be hard pushed to find a single station left in large swathes of the south Dublin suburbs anymore. They've all been sold off for development into yet more boxy apartments.
But here's another reason. Shell and Statoil are currently involved in taking up to €400 billion of gas and oil resources from the Irish people. They struck a deal with our corrupt government to take all of our natural resources and pay nothing in return. What a deal! Some might call it stealing, but to Shell it's just the deal of the century.
Now when some people in Rossport, concerned at the safety or otherwise having a high pressure gas pipeline running past their living rooms, started protesting this decision, Shell and Statoil did what any greedy multinational would do.
They sacrificed their forecourt operations in order to safeguard their mammoth offshore freebie windfall. They sold off their petrol stations, in other words, because protests and boycotts were beginning to happen.
Much easier to dispose of those troublesome assets at a profit rather than face down the legitimate anger of the Irish people whose wealth and future security they have taken for nothing.
So the next time you're cruising the streets, your fuel guage in the red, desperately looking for a petrol station that's open, remember who is responsible and why.
Blame property speculators, blame the scumbags who ran Statoil and Shell, and blame the current government for this appalling Corrib deal which stole this country's natural resources wealth and gave it to Norwegians instead.