Lack of Trust in price comparison sites

Find a Fuel Supplier is, in essence, a price comparison site. It is our aim to connect buyers with suppliers so that they get the best deal on their heating oil, or red diesel, or peat briquettes. Today, the BBC web site posted an interesting article about consumers lack of trust in some comparison sites. Indeed, one consumer group has made calls for price comparison sites to be regulated, and that is something that this site would support fully.

To us – transparency is the most important thing – we take no cut of any sale from a supplier, and we charge no consumer for any purchase – we are simply a fully independent third party site that provides information. Recent investigations into certain more ‘roguish’ fuel comparison sites has focused attention onto the behaviour of web information that might not be as independent as they would let you believe. So, before you use a price comparison engine – make sure that you do a little research. In particular:
1. Who owns the site? If it is owned by a fuel supplier – how impartial is it?
2. What happens to your data – does it get shared?

The BBC link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20463103

Will Israeli Action Affect Oil Prices – part 2

So, since Friday November 16th, we have seen oil rise by, give or take, 3 dollars a barrel. This has been caused, in part, by the massing of Israeli armour on the border into Gaza, and a fear of a ground war that could drag other middle eastern countries into the conflict, but also due to better than expected financial data from the US and China. Perhaps most importantly, however, there have been positive signs that the fiscal cliff in the US will be averted. On Friday, President Obama held a meeting with senior Bigwigs from both the Democratic and Republican parties and all factions reported that the meeting had been constructive, and that they expect to find a resolution before January. For those of you, who are unaware of the fiscal cliff issue – it’s a $600 billion mix of tax rises (or more accurately the ending of Bush era tax cuts) and spending cuts that could tip the U.S. economy into recession (thus dampening demand for oil). The fiscal cliff is top of most fund managers and traders concerns right now, and everyone is holding their breath to see if the politicians can sort it out. If the fiscal cliff happens, we should expect to see the price of oil drop sharply. So, bringing ourselves back to today – where will oil go? Well, on one hand, the demand fundamentals are still pretty weak – so we should be seeing a reduction in prices. On the other hand, the conflict in Gaza is supporting prices. If any significant happenings occur in Gaza (ground offensive or ceasefire) – oil could shift markedly in either direction. One pundit on Bloomberg, yesterday, suggested that +$5 per barrel was possible if Israel invades. So, “volatility” is today’s word-of-the-day – prices are moving around faster than a hummingbird on speed and those of you who are looking to time any oil or heating oil purchases on the back of market movements… well, it could go either way.

Will Israeli Action Affect Oil Prices

We are now two days into the Israeli action on Gaza, and the pattern behind the price of oil has become a little clearer. When the action first came through on the news wires, there was an immediate surge in prices as speculators became worried that supply from the Middle East might be constrained. However, as some older and wiser heads noted – we have been here before – and after a few hours of large gains, the price began to fall back slightly.

On Thursday, a whole slew of negative economic data came out, including the fact that the Eurozone had re-entered recession. Some US manufacturing data also disappointed, dropping much more than many pundits had predicted. When this was combined with what was happening in the middle east (where the threat of an immediate ground war had receded and a ceasefire had been called) – oil dropped signifcantly in early trades on November 16th.

So, what can we surmise? If the situation in the middle east remains fairly constant, it should not have a significant effect on oil prices and the markets will look more towards economic data to drive prices (and this data is very negative at the moment). However, if Israel does launch a ground war, or if the country’s neighbours get embroiled in the affair – we can expect to see raised nervousness on the markets and a likely increase in prices (despite low global demand and high global supply).

Heating Oil Theft – Warnings and Advice

This is becoming a well-worn theme here at Find A Fuel Supplier but it’s an important one – heating oil theft is real, it’s happening, and people need to be alert and alive to it. In the last two days, both Dyfed-Powys Police and Essex Police issued warnings about heating oil thefts.

Inspector Alan Millichip of Dyfed-Powys Police said: “Given the current high price of fuel it’s highly likely that fuel thefts will increase and we’re continuing to see a spike in this type of crime in the county.

“While, we utilise all resources to catch offenders, it’s vital individuals, businesses and communities do all they can to protect themselves from falling victim.”

So, here are some tips as to how to lessen the threat from fuel thieves:

1. Camouflage or disguise fuel tanks, if possible, so that they are not visible from roads or highways. You can use trellising, or hedging, or large potted plants. Something is better than nothing. In turn, if your tank is sited in a really obvious place – seriously consider re-siting the tank into a less obtrusive position. It’s not necessarily an expensive action.

2. Install security lighting or gravel around the tanks so that you are alerted to any movement around the tank.

3. Work with neighbours and other members of the community to keep an eye out for each other. Neighbourhood Watch Schemes are valuable here. If you go away on a trip, or holiday, specifically ask someone to actively watch out for your property.

4. Ensure that your tank is physically secured. There are specialist locks you can purchase and some insurance companies won’t pay out on an oil theft unless these high quality locks are used. Check with your insurance company what physical security they require.

In turn, there are also alarm systems that can be purchased – some of which can send warning texts/calls/emails if disturbed.

5. Observe and report suspicious vehicles. Especially large unmarked tankers. The old adage ‘better safe than sorry’ makes a lot of sense here. If you report a number plate, the police can look out for a vehicle – it only takes them a couple of minutes to ascertain whether the vehicle is legitimate. Most drivers won’t mind taking a couple of minutes out of their day to answer questions and help bring about a safer community.

6. Check the oil level of your tank regularly. If your oil is stolen, but you think the tank is full – you want to alert the police as soon as possible. In turn, you don’t want a cold house because the boiler won’t fire because the tank is empty.

Red Diesel Theft in Rural Areas

There’s an interesting article in Farmer’s Guardian this week about rural crime in Lancashire and, in particular, the theft of red diesel.

PC Ivan Leivers explained to Farmer’s Guardian reporter Olivia Midgley about farm thefts and how diesel is high on criminals’ lists. Quoting the piece and PC Leivers:

“Farm thefts require fairly low intelligence and don’t need a great deal of planning. It’s usually a case of them driving round to see what looks good, and then they think they will chance their arm.”
He explained diesel is high on thieves’ hit lists.

“Gangs will creep across fields and attack farms,” said PC Leivers. “They stab the tank and put a drum underneath.

“They’ve become wise to syphoning off diesel because they know if they get stopped by police with a tube and a container, they can be charged with going equipped for theft. If they take along a screwdriver, they know it’s less likely.

“There is a strong black market for red diesel, so it is worth it for the thieves, but for farmers it means the vehicle is out of action until it gets repaired.”

What are biofuels? Definitions!

We are used to hearing a lot in the media about “biofuels” but there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what they are actually are. So, here at Find A Fuel Supplier Central – we have been looking through various very interesting EU policy documents. In fact, examination of Directive 2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003 on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transport gives us a wonderful set of definitions. So, for your reading pleasure – here they are:

1. bioethanol: produced by the fermentation of plants rich in sugar/starch;
2. biodiesel: a diesel-quality fuel produced from biomass or used frying oils and used as biofuel;
3. ETBE: etherised bioethanol; [FAFS - commonly used as a petrol extender in Spain and France]
4. biogas: a fuel gas produced by the fermentation of organic matter by bacterial populations in the absence of oxygen;
5. biomethanol: methanol produced from biomass;
6. bio-oil: an oil fuel produced by pyrolysis (molecular decomposition of biomass through the application of heat and in the absence of air).

Heating Oil Futures up on the back of Hurricane Sandy

U.S. heating oil futures slid on Tuesday Oct 30th, after several days of gains where traders built in a risk premium in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy. The pre Hurricane Sandy gains were wiped out as several key East Coast refineries and pipelines restored operations and traders bet that the demand for fuel would be suppressed in the short term.

However, on the flip side and looking to the medium term, US heating oil supply is at historically low levels with some pundits are predicting that the low levels of supply will exert upward pressures on heating oil prices, especially as the temperatures drop.

Price of Oil Drops to Less Than $86 per Barrel as Hurricane Sandy Hits the East Coast of US

Oil prices decreased to under $86 per barrel yesterday as Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in the US. This area is densely populated and due to the chaos that the storm will bring, energy consumption was predicted to fall as businesses and organisations closed and transport services were shut down.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, electronic trading put the price of a barrel of oil from $86.28 a barrel to $85.88 a barrel, a reduction of 40 cents. As crude oil prices fluctuate depending on market demand and supply, an external factor such as severe weather conditions can influence the price of crude oil. There are forecasts that Hurricane Sandy will cause flooding as well as power failures. Therefore, demand for oil as a source of fuel will fall which will lower the price of oil. There are a number of oil refineries that may be affected by Hurricane Sandy, but America has a good supply of oil in general.

The storm is expected to go through New York City which will have an enormous impact on residents, businesses and transport services. People have already been told to evacuate the city to avoid the devastation that the hurricane will bring. Airports in the city have also cancelled thousands of flights that had been scheduled for today. Trading floors at the New York Stock Exchange and the New York Mercantile Exchange were closed yesterday. Electronic trading was open but was shut earlier than usual.

Brent crude was priced at $109.27 a barrel yesterday, a decrease in price by 29 cents. The stock market performance in Asia and Europe were lower yesterday which may have attributed to the change in prices of oil. However, the price of heating oil in the futures market in New York increased by 1.52 cents to $3.0916 a gallon yesterday.

You can find the latest fuel prices, including heating oil prices, listed on the Find a Fuel Supplier website.

How to get cheap heating oil

How to get cheap heating oil
As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, the attentions of the 1.5 million British heating oil users turn to stocking up for winter. But with prices already reaching record levels this year, sourcing and buying cheap heating oil is becoming a more painful process.

Here, we offer advice on how to get cheap heating oil and ensure that you stay warm this winter without paying over the odds.

Buy your heating oil early

When the weather’s warm, the flowers are out and the kids off school, the last thing on your mind is stocking up on heating oil. However this is possibly the best time of year to buy heating oil. This is due to the age old economic model of supply and demand.

When the demand for heating oil is low, so is its price and vice versa. The demand for heating oil is at its greatest during the cold, winter months and this is when you’ll pay most. Therefore, buying between June and August is historically the best time of year to get the cheapest prices from heating oil suppliers.

Buying during the winter months can also make the delivery of fuel difficult, with order backlogs and weather preventing orders from being fulfilled quickly. Consumer Focus has released some advice for British consumers this year in anticipation of another busy winter for fuel orders and warned that: “In the severe weather experienced in November and December 2010 many of the oil distribution companies saw significant increases in orders, resulting in delivery backlogs, particularly in remote and rural areas where roads were disrupted by snow and ice.”

However when buying during the warmer months, it’s important to make sure that your heating oil tank has been serviced first. An efficient heating oil tank will save you money in the long-term so it’s worth any outlay for its maintenance.

Buy heating oil in bulk

In order to get a cheap heating oil prices from suppliers, buying in bulk is likely to be your best bet. The smallest quantity that you can buy from most suppliers is 500 litres, primarily because of the associated costs of delivering the fuel to you. This means that if you’re buying at these levels, you’ll be paying the highest delivery costs.

If you purchase over 1,000 litres in one order you’ll begin saving and bringing that all important price per litre down. When phoning a fuel supplier to book in your order, it’s worth asking them at what level the price begins to drop. If the price drops by one pence between 500 and 2,000 litres, you’ll save yourself £20 on your order.

Compare prices of heating oil

As a commodity, the price of heating oil isn’t fixed and so will vary from supplier to supplier. Heating oil prices change depending on a number of factors, including the cost of a barrel of oil, the weather and of course demand. Therefore, sticking with the company you used last isn’t the smartest way to get cheap heating oil.

Ringing around various suppliers will give you a better idea of the market and enable you to find your cheapest price. However ringing around to find your cheapest heating oil supplier can be a pain, and where do you start? The answer lies in fuel comparison websites.

There are a number of websites that will offer the comparison of various fuels, like heating oil, kerosene and boiler juice and there are a number of subtle differences between them. Some are owned by large fuel suppliers, listing prices from companies that they own. Others earn their money from taking a cut of each sale made from their site. This means that they aren’t truly independent and not necessarily set up with consumers in mind.

However there is one fuel comparison website that is different.

FindAFuelSupplier.co.uk prides itself on its independent listings of fuel suppliers and their prices. It doesn’t take a cut of any sale made and has no links to any fuel supplier, making it the savvy consumers choice when comparing fuel prices.

Signing up Heating Oil Suppliers

Cheapest heating oil suppliersIn today’s post I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what is happening here at Find a Fuel Supplier. As you will have noticed when looking around the site, Find a Fuel Supplier aims to offer something quite different to the fuel buying market.

Instead of taking a commission from fuel suppliers on any sale made, we aim to remain completely independent to the transaction and can therefore offer complete transparency on any deal. Many of the other fuel comparison sites take a cut on any transaction made and we think this blurs the line between acting in the consumer’s best interests and helping suppliers offer the very best deals for buyers out there.

In essence, FAFS is a marketplace where suppliers can post their best prices as often as they like, and where consumers can search for different volumes, of different fuels, in different parts of the country.

So, what stage are we at? FAFS is currently actively engaged in signing up new suppliers to the site. It’s completely free to list your prices here right now. The comparison engine is complete (adding new functionality daily) and we’ll soon be rolling out exciting new stuff!

 

If you are a supplier, or know a supplier who would benefit from being on the site and reaching oodles of customers – please email James@FindaFuelSupplier.co.uk and we’ll get things sorted out pronto!