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Minister should pursue Venezuelan Oil option as low cost alternative

30 September, 2008

Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson, Mitchell McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim)Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson, Mitchell McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has urged the Minister for Trade & Industry, Arlene Foster to investigate the possibility of accessing Venezuelan oil as a low cost alternative fuel source.

Speaking following an Assembly debate on Energy Costs Mr McLaughlin said:

"The cheaper supplies of oil from Venezuela as a fuel source should not be ignored and could be utilised for countless cost saving purposes.  Ken Livingtone, when Mayor of London, made an agreement with Venezuela that provided cheap fuel for the London Transport system in return for advice on transport infrastructure.  Schemes in Massachusetts and Philadelphia and other areas in the USA using this oil have been negotiated to provide home heating oil for low income families at around 40% below the market price.

"The Minister should also explore the possibility of accessing this oil for use by the Utilities sector in order to reduce costs and reduce the household burden throughout the region. If a successful agreement was reached, schools and hospitals and other public sector facilities could also benefit thereby alleviating the pressure on already stretched budgets.

"The Venezuelans already have a European subsidiary which was used to distribute the oil to London. I would urge the Minister to seriously explore this option to see if similar arrangements could be reached here.

"Approaching Venezuela as a source of cheaper oil is something that should unite all of the parties. The obvious savings cannot be ignored given the current economic climate where local people are finding it extremely difficult to heat their homes or pay for electricity. In the meantime Ministers should be working with their Dublincounterparts in strenuous efforts to find alternative energy sources." ENDS

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