Auto diesel sales, up 10% in February, a pleasant surprise

Unleaded fuel sales in Greece edged up by 0.7 percent in February, compared to the same month a year earlier, while diesel registered a considerable 9.6 percent increase, official market data obtained by energypress has shown.

Fuel sales during the first three weeks of February had moved slowly, indicating that the year’s first two-month period was headed for successive monthly falls, but activity picked up over the final few days to yield the overall increase in fuel sales.

A decision by farmers to end road blocks around the country, staged to protest government plans for tax and social security contribution increases in the agricultural sector, helped spur the rebound.

The 9.6 percent increase in auto diesel sales was primarily attributed to the increase in transportation company activity during the last week of February, once the road blocks had ended. Orders accumulated during the standstill, which lasted many weeks, were dispatched.

In January, unleaded fuel sales had dropped by 9.7 percent, while diesel sales were down 7.7 percent, compared to the same month a year earlier.

Contrary to February’s overall fuel sales rise, the heating fuel sub-category registered a 34 percent decline, presumably as a result of the warmer-than-usual winter weather.

In the shipping sector, marine diesel oil sales rose by 2.1 percent in February, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, following an 18 percent decline in January, while mazut sales rose by 10 percent in February after falling by 10 percent in January. In the aviation sector, fuel jet sales rose by 14.2 percent in February, following a 4.3 percent increase in January.

Market officials are avoiding making assumptions about any prevailing trends as a result of the local fuel market’s volatility over the past few months.

Sales figures released by ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) a day earlier had suggested that upward overall fuel market data was likely.

Despite February’s turnaround, fuel trading companies are remaining cautiously optimistic, at best, as concerns over possible fuel tax increases have set in. Considerable fuel tax increases (special consumption tax and VAT) in the recent past had led to a 34 percent reduction of auto fuel sales between 2010 and 2014.

Concerned about a repeat, SEEPE, the Hellenic Petroleum Marketing Companies Association, will convene next week.