From Socialist Voice, November 2005

The great oil and gas rip-off

Every family in Ireland is now paying higher prices for oil and gas. An Bord Gáis has put up the price of gas by 25 per cent, which tens of thousands of homes use for cooking and heating. The ESB has raised electricity prices by 8 per cent; petrol prices went through the roof, from around 89 cents per litre to around 115 cents per litre, in the space of a month.
    The reason for the increased prices was the shutting down of oil-refining and oil production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Clearly the opportunity to make a smash-and-grab by the oil monopolies was a very significant factor. The price of oil on the global market has dropped, but not at the petrol pump nor in the form of heating oil.
    Recent figures released about the profits made in the third quarter of the year show that the oil monopolies have made a killing. Five oil companies—Exxon Mobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and Conoco Phillips—have reported $32.8 billion in after-tax profits, a rate of around $360 million a day.
    This rip-off is being paid for by every working family in this country. It is another good reason why Irish natural resources, both north and south, should be under public ownership. This would provide us with price stability; it would allow us to use these resources to benefit the whole of our nation, north and south. It would provide the opportunity to give preferential treatment to manufacturing in order to help rebuild the manufacturing base in Ireland, north and south.
    The Irish government should be looking at ways and means of undoing the rip-off that the Irish people have suffered in this drive by the monopolies. Some form of windfall tax should be looked at.
    Taking into public ownership the natural resources and claiming ownership over the seas around the whole of the island would win support right across the divide in the North and unite working people north and south in progressive struggle for a shared future.

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