'What is going to happen to people? - Fears over heating oil hikes
- Credit: PA
People reliant on heating oil face spiralling costs with increases of more than 100pc since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Households in rural areas where there is no gas supply are among those most likely to be hit hard prompting calls for help.
In the last few weeks the price of heating oil per litre has risen from 68p to £1.30, taking the price of filling a 500-litre tank from £341 to £683.76.
One quote from Boilerjuice.com for delivery on and before March 30 was nearly £1.80 a litre meaning a customer would pay £947.99 to fill up a 500 litre tank - 161pc more than a month ago.
Some companies have stopped giving quotes altogether saying a price will be calculated on delivery - which the customer can refuse - so volatile is the market.
Others are saying they will not be taking on new customers and concentrating on existing ones and the most vulnerable to preserve supplies.
Geoff Freeman, borough and parish councillor for Ormesby, near Great Yarmouth, which is reliant on home-heating oil, said he was concerned as people faced spikes in prices and the prospect of rationing and running out altogether.
"What is going to happen to people?" he said.
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"We are so reliant on oil even though we have two gas pipelines under the village."
Mr Freeman, who also buys oil for the parish church, said he last paid 61.2p and was shocked when his neighbour was quoted over 90p.
"The Ukrainian situation is not going to be over in a week and this is going to have serious ramifications world wide.
"I am concerned for everyone. We in the northern parishes only have oil or electric and that is going through the roof too.
"I hope there will be some way of assisting people.
"Some will be able to weather the storm but some are going to need some help, but how that will work I do not know."
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he shared residents' concerns.
He said: “As a purchaser of heating oil myself, I have felt first-hand the impact of the increase in prices recently, and I share residents’ concerns.
"I know that my colleagues in BEIS (Department for Business Energy and Industrial Stategy) are also acutely aware of the situation.”
Relying on oil
Having moved from Caister to Ormesby 20 years ago, relying on oil seemed something of an old-fashioned novelty, writes Mercury reporter Liz Coates.
With no access to the gas network we have got used to the see-saw prices and occasional shortages.
Our household records going back to 2012 show we have spent nearly £7,000 on heating oil in the last 10 years.
The cheapest it has ever been was 22p a litre in May 2020 when it cost £110 to put 500 litres in our tank.
On February 1 this year we paid 68p (£341 for 500 litres) - the second most expensive it has ever been having shelled out 73p (£367) in April 2013.
A quote from Boilerjuice.com that would see us pay £947.99 for our usual order will see us taking rationing action and reaching for hot water bottles to cut the cost as the picture for household bills gets ever bleaker.
The bigger picture
Last month, the price of oil jumped to its highest level in seven years, and has continued to rise even further following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The conflict has led to significant market instability, and now the UK and US have confirmed they are banning imports of Russian oil in a bid to damage its economy.
Around 1.5 million UK households rely on heating oil for their homes as they do not have access to mains gas supply.