Oil theft on the rise

Published:  22 March, 2011

There has been a surge in domestic heating oil theft in response to the rise in cost for the commodity.

There has been a surge in domestic heating oil theft in response to the rise in cost for the commodity, according to insurance company NFU Mutual.

This has led to an increase in claims from homeowners, and the insurance company is urging its customers – particularly those in rural areas – to protect their fuel supply.

According to the Office of Fair Trading, 1.5 million households in the UK use domestic heating oil.

Nicki Whittaker from NFU Mutual said: "Rural homes, with no access to a mains gas supply, have no choice but to struggle with rising oil prices."

The price of oil increased by over 70% in just three months, between September and December 2010.

Since the conflict in Libya, oil prices have risen further. With Libya reported to be the 12th largest oil producer in the world, there are fears that conflict will have a negative impact on output.

Whittaker added: "Oil has to be paid for upfront, and if you add to this the cost and inconvenience of having that fuel stolen and the possible issue of contamination following a theft, fuel poverty in rural areas becomes a very real issue."

Market analyst Matthew Lewis warned: "I can see uncertainty and fear driving the price of oil higher in the short term."

Lewis added: "There is a Middle-East premium risk premium attached to the oil price.

"We'll see further spikes and shocks in the oil market this week."

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