Fuel demand shows signs of a downturn in first quarter

Market data for fuel demand in Greece has shown a downturn for the first quarter of 2015, a worrying development, as it disrupts signs of a rebound registered in more recent months.

Demand for auto fuel, which had recently registered modest increases for petrol and diesel, fell in the first quarter. Overall demand for auto fuel fell by three percent in the first quarter and four percent in March. Demand for diesel, however, increased by five percent in the first quarter.

The petroleum sector was offered major respite as a result of increased heating fuel sales, which rose by 91 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Market officials noted that a lower special consumption tax (EFK) imposed on heating fuel played a key role, as did the drop in international crude oil prices. Previously, the EFK tax imposed on heating fuel was lifted to that of the level imposed on auto fuel. Pundits believe this prompted illegal trade of heating fuel bought and converted to auto fuel.

Prices at petrol stations have risen slightly in more recent times. Last week, the average price level of unleaded auto fuel throughout Greece was 1.56 euros per liter, up from 1.37 euros per liter in early January. Prior to the slump in international oil prices, a trend that began slightly less than a year ago, the retail price of unleaded auto fuel in Greece stood at 1.7 euros per liter.

Latest available auto market figures for April showed a 43.3 percent increase in new car sales, compared to the previous month, mostly due to car rental company orders as well as corporate fleet renewals.