50% of Northern Ireland’s fuel is illegal

Fuel laundering is so rife in Northern Ireland that three of the big fuel companies have pulled out. That’s the remarkable claim made by Ray Holloway of the Petrol Retailers’ Association.

“Government figures in 1998 showed that around 50 per cent of expected fuel tax revenues were missing and it has still not recovered today,” he said. “That is why the fuel companies pulled out. The reason is smuggled and laundered fuel and it is a major problem, with no end in sight.” He is to give evidence on the problem to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in February, but said that without political will, nothing is going to change. “In 1998, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee made 28 recommendations to deal with the problem, but almost none of these has ever been implemented,”

Philip Bradfield continues:

Esso, Shell and BP confirmed they no longer own filling stations in Northern Ireland, only allowing licensees to use their names and logos. All three, which continue to own filling stations throughout Great Britain, cited “economic” reasons for their Ulster withdrawal.

Such rent seeking activities are not unique to Northern Ireland. They are common to both corporate monopolies and instances of political corruption. It’s only more recently that the theory has been co-opted to explain the nature of organised crime and its corrosive long term effect on the wider economy.

More in the Daily Telegraph.