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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).