Highland Fuels sets its sights on Uist and Barra

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Highland Fuels have started delivering to Uist and Barra and are hopeful they will soon have access to the Loch Carnan fuel terminal in North Uist.

Currently the company are transporting the fuel by ferry - but Director Pamela Maclean said they aim to start using the depot with the ambition of becoming a serious competitor.

Ms Maclean said: “We wanted to replicate what has happened in Lewis and Harris. Over the last three years it has been gathering momentum and people have enjoyed the competitive prices.

“It is following on from that success that we have begun looking at the Uists.”

Ms Maclean explained that, as in Stornoway, Phillips 66 own the fuel at the Loch Carnan depot, while GB Oils own the terminal.

The difference between access in Stornoway and access in Uist however, is the result of the OFT investigation three years ago - following the acquisition of Brogan Holdings Limited by GB Oils.

The OFT ruled the take-over impacted on competition locally, and Highland Fuels were granted access.

Ms Maclean said she was hopeful that the current OFT investigation into island fuel practices would lead to a similar result.

She said: “We have been asking [for access to Loch Carnan] for quite a few months - so far nothing has come back.”

She continued: “We’re hoping there will be an announcement next month and we’re hoping that will have an effect on the access at Loch Carnan.”

Ms Maclean said if the OFT investigation does not lead to this, suppling fuel to the Uist and Barra would be “more difficult”.

“If the OFT investigation comes back and it’s not favourable we will have to take a decision on how to take it forward.”

However she added that Highland Fuels have “not ruled anything out” including building their own depot in the Uists.

Speaking about the company’s progress over the last year in Lewis and Harris Ms Maclean said: “We have seen big increases - it’s taken a long time - we’ve sat and waited for the customers to come out of contracts and we’ve now got a couple of big customers.

“We are here for the long term. It’s been three years this month since we’ve had access to fuel from the Stornoway fuel depot.

“Three years on we’re happy with our market and are looking to continue progressing our market share while keeping prices competitive.”

She added: “You have to have choice - that’s what it’s all about.”