Ireland’s Disappearing Gas Stations

More petrol stations have shuttered in recent years because of ever-tightening profit margins.

August 21, 2013

DUBLIN – Ireland’s petrol stations have been in a downward spiral for several years, Petrol Plaza News reports. The Irish Petroleum Industry Association (IPIA) found that between 2000 and 2008, the number of gas stations dropped by half, from 2,087 to 1,027.

Since 2008, a very small improvement in the number of gasoline stations has done little to reverse the situation. Part of the problem is the “petrol deserts” created by lack of fueling stations in rural and city areas.

“There is a danger but it’s a different kind of danger now,” said Conor Faughnan with AA Roadwatch. “Six or seven years ago, we were warning of the danger of petrol deserts in cities as sites were being lost to property development. That danger has receded and what we’re looking at now is potential petrol deserts in remote rural areas, as the individual service stations serving the more outlying areas disappear. There are still people exiting the business.

“It’s literally true that if you go into a service station to buy €30 worth of fuel and a cup of coffee, the garage is making more money on the cup of coffee than they are on the fuel,” he said.

The IPIA said the situation isn’t going to be reversed anytime soon. “There has been a decline in the number of petrol stations in Ireland over the last decade, primarily due to the very tight margins in the petrol retail business in the intensively competitive market in Ireland,” said an IPIA spokesman. “Secondly, planning authorities in Ireland should have close regard to the sort of situation that has occurred in France (where fuel stations are currently closing at the rate of 250 per year) and other European countries for some time where permission is given to very large outlets that necessitate people having to go out of their way to buy petrol. This is not an efficient way of running a country.”