An alert reader (what would we do without them?) sent us this interesting graph today:
It comes from a page on the website of a heating-oil supplier, and had both our reader and ourselves scratching our heads trying to explain it. Scotland is an oil-producing nation, and almost all of the UK’s oil comes ashore and is refined in Scotland. It has less distance to travel to get to customers in Scotland than anywhere else.
So why do Scots, consistently and by a strikingly large margin, pay the most for it?
At the time of writing, that’s a rhetorical question. We don’t know the answer. One argument is that Scotland has more remote rural settlements (the kind of place that’s disproportionately likely to use heating oil rather than other forms of energy), but that doesn’t seem to stand up to much scrutiny. Wales has plenty of remote areas too, and Northern Ireland is across a sea, which you’d imagine would ramp costs up somewhat, yet it’s almost always the cheapest anywhere in the UK.
Remoteness also wouldn’t explain why the discrepancy isn’t constant. Ullapool and Mallaig don’t move around, and nor do Aberystwyth and Cardigan, so why was the difference between Scotland and Wales zero in January (when it was pretty darn chilly across the whole UK), £120 in February (still pretty darn chilly) and £70 now?
We’re probably missing something obvious. Anyone help?