IThe temporary reduction in energy tax on fuel, the so-called tank discount, expires in Germany this week. This should increase the price of diesel by 17 cents per liter from Thursday onwards, and by 35 cents for Super E10. In the past few days, fuel has become more expensive again. A liter of Super E10 cost an average of 1.772 euros, a liter of diesel 2.065 euros. The car club ADAC and consumer advocates warned of a possible abuse of the tax relief by mineral oil companies.
“Obviously, the mineral oil companies are already creating a certain cushion again,” said ADAC transport president Gerhard Hillebrand of “Bild am Sonntag”. The head of the Federal Association of Consumers, Ramona Pop, also criticized that competition in the fuel market only works to a limited extent: “The Cartel Office must therefore check carefully whether the mineral oil companies are not unjustly enriching themselves and, if necessary, impose fines.”
That Federal Cartel Office has announced that it intends to “take a close look” after the tax break has been abolished. While the ADAC is convinced that there is already an anticipated price increase from the gas station chains, the petroleum industry association Fuels und Energie says that the current price increase has nothing to do with the end of the discount, that is still to come.
Gasoline prices compared to France
In an analysis available to the FAZ, Munich economist Monika Schnitzer compared the recent development of fuel prices and margins in the industry in Germany and France (see chart).
She came to the conclusion that the prices in Germany had fallen significantly compared to those in France from June 1st. This is interpreted as the effect of the tank discount. Since the beginning of July, however, prices in Germany have gradually risen again compared to France. “The next observation fits in with this,” writes Schnitzer: The gross margins in fuel trading were long similar in Germany and France, only for diesel the margin in Germany was lower from June 1st.
“Since July, however, the margins in Germany have increased relative to France and have always been higher in Germany than in France since mid-July,” writes the economist. These are gross margins, higher transport costs due to the low water in the Rhine are included.
You have to keep in mind: In France, the “Remise Carburant”, i.e. the tank discount, of 18 cents per liter including tax is still in effect. The observations in the past few weeks are not driven by a change in policy in France. As of September 1, the tank discount in France will even be increased to 25 cents per liter, which will then be around 30 cents per liter including tax. That will make an evaluation of the expiry of the German tank discount on September 1st difficult.
It is also interesting that the French oil group Total has announced that it will offer an additional discount of 20 cents per liter at all petrol stations in France from September 1st, relative to “global market quotations”, whatever that means.
Storing petrol is not without risk
The ADAC has also dealt with the question of whether motorists can now bunker petrol before the tax is increased again. The car club warns of the associated dangers and advises not to carry more than ten liters in a private vehicle in a securely stowed canister. A maximum of 60 liters per canister is legally permissible. This must have either UN or reserve fuel canister approval (RKK), i.e. it must be airtight, unbreakable and non-flammable. There are severe legal restrictions on storing petrol outside of the car; there are some differences depending on the federal state. In small garages, storage is generally permitted to a limited extent, at most 20 liters of petrol or 200 liters of the less flammable diesel. A maximum of 20 liters of petrol may also be stored in cellars, provided they are structurally suitable. However, this only applies to the entire basement area and all combustible materials together. If the basement areas are only separated from each other with wooden lattices, the regulation applies to all tenants together. The storage of petrol in apartments is generally prohibited, except for small amounts such as white spirit. In addition, the rental agreement can regulate that the storage of flammable liquids is excluded.