Expected lower heating fuel prices offers hope to troubled sector

Heating fuel for the upcoming winter is expected to begin selling at price levels of at least 20 percent lower than last year as a result of fallen oil prices internationally.

The price of 1,000 liters of heating fuel in the local market is expected to drop to 850 euros, from 1,050 euros last year, without factoring in subsidies that may be offered.

Taking into account heating fuel subsidies – which, if implemented, may be reduced by 50 percent compared to last year – or an alternative option entailing an overall reduction of a special consumption tax (EFK) to 0.06 euros per liter, the retail price is estimated to reach between 640 and 680 euros per 1,000 liters.

The expected price drop of at least 20 percent offers new hope for a revival of the petroleum products sector. Following a positive showing in the first half of 2015, the sector has once again shown signs of a slowdown.

Market data presented yesterday by SEEPE, the Hellenic Petroleum Marketing Companies Association, indicated that consumption of auto fuel and diesel fell by 14 percent during the two-month period of July and August. As for the current year’s first eight-month period, demand for auto fuel and diesel fell by 3 and 1 percent, respectively, the SEEPE data showed.

The slower consumption figures are expected to worsen as a result of higher fuel taxes expected. The sector’s overall losses last year are estimated at 65 million euros. The number of fuel stations still in business has shrunk considerably to 5,300.

SEEPE reiterated its call for the government to clamp down on fuel smuggling practices, which, besides depriving the state of tax revenues, are also detrimental to the sector’s lawful enterprises, the association noted.

Its president, Yiannis Aligizakis, claimed an inflow-outflow data system that was demanded by the Finance Ministry and is designed to track petrol station fuel purchases and sales has been installed by all petrol supply firms and 98 percent of fuel stations, but its resulting data is not being utilized by authorities.

The SEEPE chief said the state is missing out on between 150 million and 300 million euros of tax revenues, annually, as a result of illicit fuel trade.