LNG smugglers resorting to new tricks, state losing millions

Fuel smuggling rings are employing new types of tricks for illicit LNG trade, depriving the state of more than 15 millon euros a year in tax revenues.

According to market sources, smugglers are tampering with reregisteration data concerning LNG bottles. The approach, entailing false reregistration stamps on LNG, which saves merchants the cost of safety checks that need to be made by certified authorties, is believed to be particularly popular among smaller traders.

If not countered, this smuggling problem is expected to get worse as demand for auto LNG rises. LNG is a lower-cost fuel option for drivers compared to gasoline and diesel.

A government decision, reached in January last year, to increase a special consumption tax (EFK) imposed on LNG to 430 euros per metric ton from 330 euros per metric ton, has propagated the problem.

Illegal trafficking of industrial LNG, taxed at a lower EFK rate of 60 euros per metric ton, has increased. This gas is then smuggled to gas stations as autogas and sold with the high-level EFK rate intact. For every one liter of smuggled industrial LNG, traffickers, evading taxes and duties, gain 21 cents.

Illegal LNG bottling activity at gas stations is also on the rise. LNG bottles for household and professional use are supposed to be filled and checked by authorized gas companies.