The price of oil


Sir, – Kevin Dowling (November 6th) makes an interesting observation about how we shun “blood diamonds”, and yet buy oil without thought to its provenance. However the two are very different in their traceability, and in their markets.

A diamond is a distinct physical entity, which will change hands a few times from its discovery, to cutters, and on to the jeweller’s window. Oil in contrast is a commodity which is traded incredibly freely. Daily global trading volumes are often 20 to 30 times larger than actual oil consumption. It is thus by far the most traded commodity globally, with each barrel traded numerous times before being used as fuel. Meanwhile its other applications and uses are legion.

Clearly, diamonds are a luxury, and many of us can get through the winter without them. They are desired partly due to their high cost. Conversely, most of us will use oil every hour of the day as we get through the winter, and can ill-afford to reject the least expensive option.

Sourcing reliably traceable, “ethical” oil is probably unrealistic. Harnessing the tidal or wind energy with which we are constantly buffeted may be a more feasible, if long-term, goal. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.