Schools, airlines, heating fuel to contain lockdown effects on fuel

Fuel market officials are hoping certain lockdown exemptions, such as the non-closure of primary schools, plus airline traffic and heating fuel demand, will result in smaller losses for the sector compared to the country’s first lockdown earlier this year.

If the latest measures remain as they stand for the lockdown’s duration of at least three weeks, beginning last Saturday, then the decline in fuel sales is expected to be far milder than the 45 percent reduction experienced during the country’s first lockdown, implemented last March, fuel market officials have projected.

Seasoned authorities estimate the fuel market’s reduction in sales could reach 20 percent.

The ongoing transportation by parents and guardians of primary school students to school, continuation of flights, as well as greater heating fuel needs of household members kept in by the lockdown, are all expected to help contain the drop in fuel sales.

Though these factors may offer fuel professionals some consolation, the fuel market is entering uncharted territory as the eventual duration of the lockdown remains unknown.

Also, a large number of households have yet to recover from the financial consequences of the first lockdown. Their budgets will have tightened.

Oil firms troubled by heating subsidy revision for gas, firewood inclusion

Petroleum product traders are troubled by government thoughts to broaden the eligibility of heating subsidy support so that, besides heating fuel, three new categories, natural gas, firewood and pellets, are also added to the list.

Contrary to natural gas, heating fuel is overtaxed, while the encouragement, through subsidies, of firewood as a heating source does not make environmental sense given the high levels of resulting smog, petroleum industry sources have pointed out.

High levels of smog have been recorded in Greek cities during winters over the past decade or so as struggling households have sought lower-cost heating amid the recession.

Heating subsidies are already limited and barely cover the needs of underprivileged households, petroleum industry officials have noted, fearing their share of the total could diminish if other heating sources also become eligible.

Heating fuel supply for the approaching winter season began yesterday at a level of 77 cents per liter, 2 cents lower than the price level at the close of last season’s trading, in May. Heating fuel prices are forecast to remain low, sources said.

Despite the lower price level, demand was subdued on opening day, yesterday. Many consumers took advantage of last season’s price drop and are already stocked up. In addition, temperatures around Greece remain mild.

Lockdown relaxation limits fuel sales drop, tourism pivotal

Petroleum product traders have experienced a slight improvement in sales figures since the relaxation of lockdown measures at the beginining of May.

During this 13-day period, the fuel sales drop has been contained to 30 percent compared to regular levels, far better than a slump that reached as low as 60 percent in April.

The pandemic’s impact on diesel has been milder. Sales for this fuel are now down 10 percent after dropping 30 percent in April.

Market officials attributed this increase to the first-stage relaxation of lockdown measures. Also, the general public has remained apprehensive about using public transport, prompting a further rise in the use of private vehicles.

Heating fuel sales were up over the past few weeks compared to  an equivalent period last year as consumers took advantage of a massive drop in oil prices to stock up for next winter.

A new extension granted by the government for heating fuel supply until the end of the month is not expected to make an impact on sales figures. Most consumers have already stocked up and heating fuel prices are now gradually rising.

The pandemic’s development, impact on wider activities and, most crucially, tourism this summer will be instrumental for the future course of fuel sales figures. Current levels are expected to remain unchanged over the next two to three months.

A finance ministry relief measure for payments of special consumption tax and VAT on fuel purchased between May 4 and 19 has not been a great help for market liquidity, officials pointed out.

Fuel demand dives, heating fuel sales supported by low prices

Fuel consumption, down to unprecedented levels as a result of the lockdown, has produced a nationwide gasoline sales drop of 70 percent this month. The slide in gasoline sales has been even steeper in urban centers, falling by as much as 80 percent.

The reduction in demand for diesel has been milder, limited to levels of far less than 50 percent as a result of ongoing agricultural activities around Greece.

On the contrary, heating fuel demand has stood firm against the wider downward trend, supported by extremely attractive prices that have encouraged consumers to stock up as early as now for next winter.

Heating fuel prices have registered a 24 percent drop since the beginning of the year, falling to 0.815 euros per liter from 1.07 euros per liter.

The heating fuel price reduction in Greece is far smaller than that of international oil prices because a considerable percentage of the local retail price is comprised of taxes.

The heating fuel season ends at the end of April, meaning consumers have about two more weeks to place orders at the current prices.

An OPEC agreement reached last week for a 10 percent reduction in output considerably increases the likelihood of a price rebound. The production cutback puts an end to the Saudi-Russian price war.

Domestic fuel market battered, first-half losses projected

Petroleum product traders, overwhelmed by the dramatic drop in fuel sales as a result of restrictive measures prompted by the coronavirus crisis, are making grim forecasts for financial results in 2020.

Losses are projected for the first half while, overall, 2020 will be a bad year, fuel company officials are already admitting.

Fuel demand is seen falling by 40 percent during the final week of March and throughout April, company officials have told energypress.

So far this month, gasoline sales have dropped 20 percent, demand for diesel fuel is down 8 percent, while, on the contrary, heating fuel demand has risen by 22 percent as a result of the ongoing chilly weather combined with the crisis’ enforced domestic living.

Market officials expect fuel sale figures to slip further in the two-month period covering April and May. They have forecast a 50 percent drop.

“It is getting worse by the day for auto fuel sales,” one market official stressed.

Even so, the year’s financial concerns for petroleum firms can still be reversed if restrictive measures are not extended beyond May, some officials believe.

The upcoming summer tourism season will be one of the worst on record, petroleum company officials have forecast, noting that even if the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control in Greece, predictions cannot be made for other countries. The tourism potential for June has already been written off, the sources added.

Overall Greek fuel demand continued slide in 2018, falling 5%

Volume-based fuel sales fell by 5 percent in 2018, driven lower primarily by weaker gasoline and heating fuel demand, which dropped by 5 and 17 percent, respectively, according to data released by SEEPE, the Hellenic Petroleum Marketing Companies Association. The drop in auto diesel demand was milder, falling 1.5 percent.

These latest figures, four months following Greece’s exit from the country’s bailout program, do not bode well for the economy, fuel data being a key indicator of its prospects.

The SEEPE figures could have been worse had it not been for the cold weather experienced in December, which generated a 15 percent increase in monthly demand for heating fuel.

Despite the latest slide in overall fuel demand, the extent of the drop is smaller compared to slumps of previous years during the recession, which has led to successive fuel demand reductions over the past seven years. Heating fuel demand has slumped by a total of 43 percent during this period.

Fuel taxes in Greece have played a big role in this weakened demand. Greece’s Special Consumption Tax (EFK) imposed on fuel is Europe’s third highest, behind the Netherlands and Italy, while the VAT rate, at 24 percent, is the continent’s fifth highest. Greek gasoline prices are the EU’s third highest. Netherlands tops the list and is followed by Italy. VAT rates in most developed EU states range between 19 and 21 percent.

Greece’s VAT-EFK combination is causing double taxation – or tax on taxes.

The influence of euro-dollar exchange rates has impacted fuel prices in Greece at an extent of between 30 and 40 percent. Local retail fuel prices are mainly shaped by fuel taxes to a degree of between 60 to 70 percent, well over the EU average. The fuel tax proportions are lower in member states such as Germany, Finland and France, where disposable income levels are far higher than in Greece.

 

 

Households, businesses, inflation impacted by OPEC-sparked fuel hikes

Sharp price increases of auto and heating fuel, as well as natural gas, are impacting household and business costs as well as the inflation rate, data released by ELSTAT, the Greek statistical authority, has shown.

The price of natural gas registered a 13.1 percent price increase compared to November last year, diesel was up 11.3 percent, and heating fuel rose 14.7 percent, the ELSTAT data showed. On the contrary, the price of gasoline fell by 3.8 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier.

The price shifts have been attributed to international crude and petroleum product prices, shaping prices set by refineries and traders.

Subsequently, transportation and operating costs for businesses, determined, to a large extent, by fuel price levels, have risen considerably.

Further fuel price rises are expected as a result of a decision by OPEC members and other oil-producing countries to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day.

The price of Brent Crude Oil rose to more than 63 dollars per barrel following the announcement of the cutback by oil producers last Friday before correcting to less than 60 dollars in the days that followed.

 

Fuel sales down 2.8% in Greece for 9-month period

Gasoline, diesel and heating fuel sales – in volume terms – are continuing to fall as highlighted by a 2.8 percent decline for the nine-month period compared to the equivalent period last year, official energy ministry data has shown.

Paradoxically, this overall fuel sales drop in Greece coincides with record-breaking tourism industry figures. Locals have cut back on holiday-related domestic travel while many visitors from abroad are opting not to use vehicles during their stays, pundits noted. The increasing trend of all-inclusive travel packages offered by hotels is also believed to have affected domestic fuel sale figures.

Heating fuel registered the biggest drop, falling 23.7 percent during this year’s nine-month period compared to a year ago. Gasoline sales dropped 1.8 percent during the same nine-month period, while auto diesel fuel volume-based sales buckled the trend to rise by 3.5 percent.

September’s overall volume-based fuel sales figure was also down, falling by 3.6 percent compared to the equivalent month last year.

Gasoline sales registered a sharp 5.5 percent drop in September compared to the same month a year ago. The diesel fuel sales drop was milder, slipping 1.7 percent this September.

Local heating fuel begins trading today 20% higher than last season

Heating fuel for the upcoming winter begins trading today in the Greek market approximately 20 percent higher than prices last season, primarily as a result of taxes and higher international fuel prices.

Last season, heating fuel began trading at a level of 94.4 cents per liter in October, 2017 before reaching 1.025 euros per liter in April, according to official Greek economy ministry data.

This season, heating fuel will begin trading at 1.14 euros per liter, according to market estimates.

Higher fuel taxes in Greece and rising international fuel prices have prompted a major drop in local demand for heating fuel as households have turned to more affordable heating alternatives.

Greek heating fuel demand has dropped by 72 percent between 2003, a record year when domestic consumption peaked at 4.25 million tons, and 2017, official market data has shown.

Local heating fuel prices seen rising by 20% this winter

The cost of heating fuel in the Greek market is expected to increase by 20 percent this winter compared to last winter season as a result of higher  international fuel prices.

The retail price for heating fuel orders amid the current market conditions would be set at around 1.14 euros per liter compared to roughly 0.95 cents per liter last winter, local traders have estimated.

The anticipated price rise has raised concerns among traders who dread a further slump in heating fuel demand this winter following a 20 percent drop last season, primarily as a result of the mild winter. Many traders struggled to remain afloat.

Brent crude oil prices have exceeded 81 dollars per barrel over the past few days and American crude oil prices are now close to 72 dollars per barrel. Despite a slight drop yesterday of about half a percentage point, oil prices, on an upward trajectory, have risen to their highest levels of the past four years. In forecasts made yesterday, analysts predicted the Brent price would reach 82 dollars per barrel during the final quarter of 2018.

Responding to the rising fuel prices, Greek refinery officials reminded that a special consumption tax (EFK) and other taxes represent 46.2 percent of the retail price for heating fuel.

 

 

Local refineries post subdued 1Q results, higher fuel prices now dropping

The current year did not begin favorably for the local petroleum sector, as indicated by first-quarter results posted by of the country’s two biggest refineries controlling the Greek fuel market.

Drastically reduced heating fuel sales were the main factor behind the disappointing first quarter results, compared to last year, despite an increase in demand for diesel and a modest rise in gasoline sales following an extended downward trajectory.

ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum), which announced its first-quarter results yesterday, reported a 13 percent fuel sales decline, overall, down to a level of 826,000 metric tons, despite operating a greater number of refueling stations, up to 1,749 in the first quarter from 1,737 a year earlier.

ELPE’s heating fuel sales fell by 22 percent in the first quarter, year on year, while diesel and gasoline sales rose by 6 and 2 percent, respectively.

The increased first-quarter sale figures for auto fuels, offering wider profit margins, helped the group’s EBITDA/metric ton margin improve slightly, by one percentage point.

Motor Oil Hellas, the Greek fuel market’s other major player, reported a 6.2 percent overall decline in auto and heating fuel sales.

Auto fuel sales at the group rose by 3.8 percent in the first quarter. Gasoline sales were up by over one percent while demand for diesel increased by 5.8 percent. However, the significant drop in heating fuel sales drove the group’s overall results lower.

Higher fuel prices in the first quarter have been attributed as a factor affecting sale levels in the sector. Prices at local pumps have just begun dropping as lower international prices begin to impact the Greek retail fuel market.

 

Major fuel demand decline in 2017, signs of life in January

The prolonged bailout negotiations in the first half of 2017 not only impacted bond spreads and business loan interest rates but market sentiment, overall, which has affected fuel consumption levels, officials at Greek petroleum company Motor Oil Hellas noted yesterday while presenting the corporation’s results.

Despite the negative Greek market conditions, the refinery group posted record results as a result of its increased emphasis on exports to make up for lower demand in the domestic fuel market, which appears to be entering a new crisis period.

Overall demand for the corporation’s petroleum products in 2017 fell by 2.1 percent. Gasoline registered the biggest drop, falling 3.1 percent. Diesel demand increased by 0.5 percent while heating fuel, affected by poor activity in December, down by 30 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, fell by over 2 percent, overall.

Latest fuel market data for January showed some signs of improvement for the auto fuel sector but the decline in heating fuel demand was sustained.

Gasoline demand rose by 11 percent in January, diesel demand rose by 23 percent, while heating fuel demand slumped 37 percent.

The significant decline in heating fuel registered for the winter gone by can be attributed to a particularly heavy winter a year earlier, which had boosted heating fuel demand to particularly elevated levels.

Returning to Motor Oil Hellas, overall fuel sales, in volume terms, achieved a new record level in 2017, reaching 13.7 million metric tons, up from 13.04 million metric tons in 2016. The refinery group’s exports exceeded the 10 million mark for the first time, reaching 10.2 million metric tons.

 

Poor December figures dampen fuel sector’s overall 2017 performance

Subdued fuel demand figures registered in December, including sale level drops  for certain categories, impacted the sector’s overall performance for 2017, which ended slightly down compared to the previous year.

More specifically, in December, gasoline demand fell by a level of between 2 and 3 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier. Heating fuel demand fell sharply by 30 percent compared to December, 2016, primarily as a result of the milder winter experienced so far, combined with a preceding reinforcement of reserves. Also, emerging as the most surprising result of all, auto diesel demand fell by a considerable 10 percent.

Subsequently, the overall drop in sales for 2017 is estimated to be between 1 and 2 percent, primarily as a result of the steep drop in heating fuel sales.

These end-of-year results effectively mean that the fuel sector failed to register a solid rebound for yet another year.

Officials are concerned that a tax hike planned for diesel will further impact the sector.

 

Local diesel prices now EU’s 5th highest from 15th a year ago

The price of auto diesel in Greece has climbed ten places over the past year, from fifteenth highest to fifth on the EU-28 list, an unprecendented leap for an EU member state, according to seasoned pundits.

A year ago, auto diesel prices in the Greek market were marginally higher than the EU average but are now five percent over the common market’s average of 1.243 euros per liter.

Auto diesel was priced at 1.186 euros per liter on December 19, 2016 and has now risen to 1.303 euros per liter, a 10 percent year-on-year increase.

The sharp price increase of the fuel, prompted by tax increases, has caught many diesel vehicle owners who have switched technologies by surprise.

Finland, the UK, Italy and Sweden occupy the EU’s top four places in terms of auto diesel prices.

Greece has also climbed higher on the EU list of gasoline and heating fuel prices over the past year. Last December, gasoline prices in Greece were the EU’s fourth highest and have since climbed a place to third. The price of heating fuel in Greece has risen from ninth to eighth place in the EU since last December.

The price of gasoline in Greece is currently at 1.534 euros per liter, 13 percent over the EU average of 1.359 euros per liter, according to latest European Commission data.

 

 

Natural gas price down, EPA Attiki sets level at 5.1 cents

Lower natural gas prices are expected to lead to marginally reduced heating costs this winter for households relying on this energy source. On the contrary, heating fuel price levels have so far remained unchanged compared to last winter.

EPA Attiki, supplying natural gas to the wider Athens area, has set a price of 5.1 cents per KWh, effective as of today, down from 5.4 cents per KWh in September and an average price of 5.6 cents per KWh last winter.

The latest price levels make natural gas 42 percent cheaper than heating fuel and 68 percent cheaper than electricity.

A growing number of households are switching to natural gas for their heating needs. Besides a recent sector reform enabling flat owners to freely withdraw from old collective apartment block heating fuel arrangements, as well as a successful gas subsidy program that ended in October but is expected to be relaunched in 2018, households are also turning to natural gas as a result of an  uncertainty surrounding heating fuel subsidies.

Though heating fuel purchases for the upcoming winter began roughly one month ago, no details have yet to be provided on this season’s heating fuel subsidy criteria.

The government has already announced it will cut heating fuel subsidies by more than half in 2018, to 50 million euros from 110 million euros. Stricter income and property-based criteria are expected to apply. Consequently, either fewer households will be eligible or heating fuel subsidies will be lowered.

Last year, heating fuel subsidies of 25 cents per liter were offered to eligible households.

A decision by the finance ministry on this year’s level is not expected for some time as the first round of heating subsidies will not be made available until January.

Without a doubt, the additional strain to be felt by households stands to negatively impact the trading activity of petroleum companies.

Record numbers of households switching to natural gas

The number of new gas supply contracts has surged to unanticipated levels amid a widening field of players looking forward to the Greek gas market’s full liberalization as of January 1.

At EDA Attiki, distributing to the wider Athens area, new household supply contracts from the beginning of the year until last week, prior to the completion of a ten-month period, exceeded 18,800, up from 17,500 for the nine-month period. The market data suggests this gas supplier’s growth rate for new household contracts is increasing at a rate of 1,000 per month, meaning EDA Attiki’s latest target of 20,000 new contracts, following an upward revision, could be exceeded.

The 18,800 new household gas supply contracts established at EDA Attiki so far this year represent more than double last year’s amount and are 57 percent higher than the initial target set for the year. Quite impressively, 8,100, or 43 percent of these new supply contracts were established during the less active summer period, from June through August.

Likewise, the growth rate for new gas supply contracts established at EDA Thes, established to serve the wider Thessaloniki and Thessaly regions, has been just as robust. This supplier’s number of contracts exceeded 9,200 by early September, 3,350 of these established during the summer.

The first-half results at EDA Thess, announced prior to these latest figures, showed that the firm’s new gas supply connections grew to 5,837, up from 3,642 last year, a 60 percent increase. The total number of contracts grew to 300,587 from 285,992 last year.

Though, until recent years, higher heating fuel prices were the main driving force behind new household gas supply contracts, a legal framework revision enabling flat owners to break away from collective apartment block heating system agreements without the majority’s consent is the key factor behind the more recent household shifts from heating fuel to natural gas.

EDA Attiki estimates that it has amassed over 10,000 new gas supply contracts as a result of this legal revision.

A decision by market authorities to lift surcharge fees previously imposed on new gas supply connections, as well as the availability of subsidy programs, have also provided impetus to the shift.

Of course, the lower cost of natural gas compared to heating fuel has remained a factor. Data for early October showed natural gas is 37.5 percent cheaper than heating fuel, while its cost can reach as much as 50 percent less for household cooking and hot water needs.

 

Winter’s heating fuel trade begins at last year’s opening price levels

Heating fuel prices commenced trading today for the upcoming winter season at levels of between 93 and 95 cents (euro) per liter in the wider Athens area, matching last season’s opening price levels.

This time last year,  heating fuel began trading at around 93 cents and closed the season at 97 cents.

Sector officials have forecast little chance of any major price changes during the season.

However, anticipated heating fuel subsidy changes, needed as a result of a confirmed cut in national budget heating subsidy provisions from 110 million euros last year to 55 million euros this year, could seriously impact household consumption levels and oil trading company performances.

The finance ministry has yet to deliver a final decision on the new subsidy details. Either subsidy levels or eligibility criteria, or, perhaps both, could change. Last year, eligible households received heating fuel subsidies worth 25 cents per liter.

On the contrary, natural gas is continuing to gain a widening advantage over heating fuel, as highlighted by its deepening market penetration in Athens, Thessaloniki and Thessaly.

Natural gas prices are expected to range between 30 and 40 percent lower than those of heating fuel this winter.

In a letter forwarded to the government, POPEK, the country’s fuel station trading association, has called for a drastic reduction of the special consumption tax (EFK) imposed on heating fuel, noting that a rate hike failed to deliver the desired tax revenue results from this tax while also depriving households of heating fuel.

 

Gasoline demand drop of 4.6% dampens economic outlook

Gasoline demand fell by 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the equivalent period a year earlier, official market data released by the energy ministry has shown.

The downward trajectory of market trends, especially in fuel demand, a key economic indicator, runs contrary to more optimistic forecasts trumpeted by the government, claiming the country is now set for an economic recovery.

Diesel (ULSD) demand registered a marginal 0.6 percent increase in the first quarter and auto LPG demand rose by 2.9 percent.

Howewer, in March, gasoline demand dropped by 1.4 percent, LPG sales slumped by 7 percent and heating fuel – in a seasonal development – plunged by 25.4 percent.

Market officials expect a further overall slump in fuel demand to be registered for April. Unofficial data suggests a double-digit drop in diesel sales, but refineries have not confirmed such a development.

Diesel demand fell by 6.1 pecent and 2.2 percent in January and February, respectively, before rising sharply, by 8.5 percent, in March. Diesel is the leading fuel of choice among drivers in Greece.

Heating fuel sales down 40%, auto fuel demand dips 2%

Heating fuel sales in Greece over the three-month period covering October to December fell by approximately 40 percent against the level registered for the equivalent period a year earlier.

A spike in heating fuel sales during December, reflected by the thousands of heating fuel subsidy applications submitted, proved insufficient to make up for the subdued orders of October and November, kept low as a result of the milder weather experienced during these two months.

Market officials do not expect any improvement in these subdued heating fuel sale figures over the coming months.

A special consumption tax increase imposed on heating fuel in October, combined with higher fuel prices ranging between 10 and 15 percent, have greatly contributed to the lower sales.

Market officials also expect a downward sales trajectory in auto fuels. Sales in this fuel category slipped by 2 percent in December compared to a year earlier.

The data coming through strongly indicates that the government chose to increase fuel taxes at a highly inappropriate time – amid rising international fuel prices.

The special consumption tax hike for auto fuels, which took effect on January 1, has increased auto fuel prices by between 4 and 5 cents per liter around most parts of the country, including VAT. Gasoline prices have risen to levels ranging between 1.49 and 1.54 euros per liter, diesel has shot up around 12 cents from 1.18 euros per liter to 1.30 euros per liter, while auto gas has risen by 10 cents per liter, from 72 cents to 82 cents.

Fuel price increases have been even steeper on islands – Cyclades and Dodecanese – which, besides the special consumption tax increase, have also been hit by a hefty VAT increase, from 17 percent to 24 percent. Gasoline prices in these regions now range from 1.66 euros per liter to 1.91 euros per liter. Diesel is selling for prices of between 1.30 euros per liter and 1.53 euros per liter. Heating fuel prices range between 1.04 euros per liter and 1.15 euros per liter.

The government is attributing the fuel price increses to the higher international fuel prices.

Total taxes included in auto fuel prices in Greece represent 72 percent of retail prices, compared to the EU average of 66 percent. Besides the higher fuel prices in Greece, consumers are also confronted by lower disposable incomes.

Critics have condemned the government for placing at risk its economic growth target of 2.7 percent for 2017 as a result of overtaxation aiming at surplus figures.

 

 

Subdued heating fuel demand reported on first day of tax hikes

Heating fuel demand was virtually non-existent around the country on Saturday, when new tax hikes on the fuel took effect, increasing its cost by about 10 percent compared to last October.

One major local trader reported a total of just twenty heating fuel orders for the day.

Definitely helping shape this trend, the weather around the country remains mild while consumers are still waiting for the finance ministry to announce its heating fuel subsidy program for this coming winter.

The finance ministry is considering implementing a geography-based subsidy system through which consumers based in colder parts of Greece, such as mountainous regions, will receive greater subsidy support for heating fuel.

Though the total amount to be provided for heating fuel subsidies will remain unchanged, compared to last year, at 105 million euros, the government intends to apply better-targeted coverage. Income and property criteria will also stay the same.

Heating fuel prices on Saturday reached around 92 to 93 cents per liter in major urban centers, up approximately 10 percent compared to last October, while prices in provincial parts of the country were reported at around 97 to 98 cents.

The government raised the special consumption tax (EFK) imposed on fuel from 23 cents to 28 cents per liter and the VAT rate from 23 percent to 24 percent – as of October 15. The tax hikes will also apply to auto fuels as of the beginning of 2017.

Fuel taxes in Greece now constitute 54 percent of retail prices, well over the EU average of 32.1 percent.

Heating fuel hits the market tomorrow at elevated prices

Following the recent ratification of a new round of fuel tax hikes in Greece, heating fuel will hit the market tomorrow at elevated prices, roughly ten percent higher than last October. Natural gas, priced at five cents per KWh for October, is currently the far cheaper option, costing 43 percent less.

Certain consumer categories will be eligible for heating fuel subsidies. However, a new subsidy model’s details will not be known until around the end of the month, when a ministerial decision is expected.

Heating fuel prices, as of tomorrow, are expected to reach levels of 93 to 94 cents per liter in the wider Athens area and even higher in provincial Greece.

This represents an increase of approximately ten percent from a year earlier, when heating fuel was priced at 85 cents per liter in Athens. Last winter, heating fuel prices fell as the season progressed, reaching levels of 70 to 75 cents per liter in April.

Higher special consumption tax (EFK) and VAT rates will come into effect for heating fuel tomorrow. Based on the new rates, taxes will now constitute 54 percent of retail fuel prices in Greece, well above the EU average of 32.1 percent. Making matters worse for local consumers, international crude prices are on the way up following a recent decision by OPEC members to contain the cartel’s daily oil production level as of November.

Most critics believe that a tax revenue increase will not be achieved, despite the heating fuel tax hikes, as a result of the anticipated drop in fuel demand and increase of illicit trade, presumptions based on past experience.

Also, officials have pointed out that demand for heating fuel will remain subdued in the lead-up to this winter period as a result of the current mild weather conditions being experienced in most parts of Greece.  Leftover fuel stocks from last winter at many households will also initially limit demand, officials have noted.

As for the revised heating fuel subsidy plan, details of which are expected at the end of this month, finance ministry officials have said new subsidies will be better targeted. Income and property-related criteria for heating fuel subsidy applicants will not be changed. But a new criterion taking regional weather conditions into account, for greater support to underprivileged groups based in colder parts of Greece, will be introduced. The total subsidy amount to be offered, at 105 million euros for this winter, remains unchanged.

 

IOBE report: Fuel taxes to hit growth, spark illicit trade

New fuel tax increases set to be introduced, beginning with heating fuel as of October 15, will severely undermine the Greek economy’s growth potential as well as tax revenues, according to IOBE, the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, in a study officially released today.

The tax revenue shortage will be caused by a further dampening of market demand as a result of the fuel tax hikes, the IOBE study notes. Besides heating fuel, tax increases on gasoline, diesel and LNG will follow as of January 1.

The government hopes this latest round of fuel tax hikes can rake in a further 400 million euros by the end of 2017.

The fuel tax hikes are made harsher by the current rebound seen in international crude oil prices, which have risen from 46 dollars to 51 dollars a barrel over the past couple of weeks, prompted by a late-September OPEC agreement for a freeze of daily output levels as of  November.

Assuming no major price fluctuations take place over the next few days in crude oil and the euro-dollar exchange rate, heating oil is expected to hit the Greek market at 92 cents per liter, up 8 percent from last year’s level of 84 to 85 cents per liter registered during the equivalent period.

This heating fuel price rise is the result of a higher special consumption tax (EFK) rate, from 23 cents to 28 cents per liter, a VAT increase on fuel from 23 percent to 24 percent, as well as refinery price increases.

Concerns over the financial standing of Deutsche Bank are applying pressure on the euro currency against the dollar.

Besides the IOBE study, Eurostat and Greek finance ministry figures also highlight the negative impact of fuel tax hikes on demand levels. Since 2009, when fuel tax hikes began rising in recession-struck Greece, fuel demand has fallen by at least 39 percent, severely affecting tax revenues.

The IOBE study also warns that illicit fuel trade will be encouraged as a result of the tax hike and inability by officials to fully enforce an “inflow-outflow” data monitoring system that would enable the Finance Ministry to track purchases and sales in the sector.

Gains, losses seen in geographical-based heating fuel subsidy plan

Revisions to heating fuel subsidy criteria for households currently being worked on by alternate finance minister Tryfon Alexiadis and his associates are expected to produce both gains and losses for consumers, the objective being to establish a fairer and more focused system.

A proposal already forwarded to the Prime Minister’s office divides households eligible for fuel subsidies into four climate-linked geographical regions. Based on this proposal, heating fuel subsidies will be available for maximum annual quantities per household ranging from 500 to 2,500 liters, depending on the region, according to the proposal.

Eligible households will also be subject to income and property criteria, which, according to sources, will remain unchanged compared to last winter’s system.

A total of 105 million euros will be provided for heating fuel subsidies compared to 210 million euros last year.

Fuel prices set to increase as of June 1 following tax hike

Fuel prices in the Greek market are set to rise as of June 1 following a recent government decision to increase the special consumption tax (EFK) imposed on fuel.

The tax on unleaded fuel will be increased to 700 euros from 670 euros per 1,000 liters. This will result in an increase of about five cents per liter for unleaded fuel at the pump, from the current aveage of 1.35 euros per liter to 1.40 euros per liter.

In the diesel category, the special consumption tax will increase from 330 euros to 410 euros per 1,000 liters, which will result in a hike of eight cents per liter, from one euro per liter to 1.08 euros per liter.

As for heating fuel, the special consumption tax will increase from 230 euros to 280 euros per 1,000 liters, leading to a retail price increase of six cents per liter, from 75 cents per liter to 81 cents per liter.

The tax imposed on auto LNG will be increased from 330 euros to 430 euros per 1,000 liters.

Natural gas used at gas-fuled power stations will be exempted from the special consumption tax as a measure aiming to support the country’s industrial sector.

ELPE fuel sales up in February, wider turnaround not certain

Fuel sales at ELPE (Hellenic Petrolum) increased by five percent in February, year-on-year, but it remains unclear whether this encouraging company development suggests an overall turnaround for Greece’s fuel market.

Auto diesel fuel sales increased by 15 percent, but heating fuel sales fell by 35 percent, subdued by the warmer-than-usual winter weather, while marine fuel sales increased sharply. More specifically, marine diesel oil sales rose by 50 percent and mazut sales were up 35 percent.

Whether the rise in fuel sales experienced at ELPE in February reflects a wider trend will be made clearer over the next few days when more market data becomes available.

January proved to be a poor month for fuel sales in Greece, compared to the equivalent month a year earlier. Unleaded fuel sales fell by 9.7 percent, auto diesel fuel sales were down 7.7 percent, heating fuel sales dropped by 17 percent, marine diesel oil sales fell by 18 percent, mazut sales fell 10 percent, and LNG sales dropped by 4.7 percent. Jet fuel was the only fuel product to register a sales increase in January compared to the same month a year earlier, rising by 4.3 percent.

Certain market pundits believe that January’s poor fuel sales figures may be linked to the month’s increased fuel stock levels, a customary January condition resulting from bigger orders placed by companies in preceding months, which subsequently reduces order sizes in January.

Sales trends aside, fuel sector officials are alarmed by the reports of possible fuel tax increases. Fuel sales will inevitably decline, the state will lose rather than gain tax revenues, while illicit fuel trading activity will rise as consumers seek cheaper fuel stations, officials warn.

Between 2010 and 2016, auto fuel sales fell by 34 percent and heating fuel demand plunged by 53 percent following two major tax hikes for fuel (special consumption tax and VAT). During this period, between 3,500 and 4,000 fuel stations went out of business, roughly 10,000 ot 12,000 jobs were shed, not including several thousand indirectly linked job losses, while the market was flooded with provisions for bad debt worth millions of euros.

Meanwhile, fuel smuggling practices have remained virtually untouched. An “inflow-outflow” data system legislated by a preceding administration back in 2012 with the objective of tracking petrol station fuel purchases and sales is not yet fully operational. Also, a plan to fit GPS systems onto fuel trucks as a means of monitoring their moves has not been completed. Illicit trade for marine fuel is rampant.

 

 

Sharp heating fuel sales increase registered in 2015

Data just released on the country’s fuel sales for 2015 have shown a slight decline in auto fuel consumption, down by 46,712 tons compared to the previous year, while heating fuel registered an impressive 43 percent year-on-year increase. Consumption in the heating fuel category increased by 417,210 tons compared to 2014.

Overall fuel sales increased by six percent as a result of the considerable rise in heating fuel demand.

Unleaded auto fuel sales continued to drop amid the ongoing Greek recession. It is believed that the lower prices offered in 2015 helped restrict the decline experienced in the preceding years. A six percent decline in auto fuel sales had been registered in 2014. The drop was limited to three percent in 2015, for sales totaling 2.46 million tons.

On the contrary, auto diesel sales, which proved dynamic in 2014 to register an eight percent sales increase, ended up losing momentum in 2015. Despite the lower prices offered, auto diesel sales increased by just two percent in 2015, to 2.51 million tons.

Heating fuel sales figures definitely provided the sector’s brightest news for the year. The 43 percent sales increase took total heating fuel sales to 1.39 million tons in 2015 from 971,454 tons in 2014.

Early fuel sales data for 2016 indicate that the year has begun slowly with subdued sales figures in all product categories.

Sharp heating fuel demand boost registered in December

The local fuel market ended the year with a considerable boost in demand propelled by a significant increase in heating fuel orders during December, according to business news source capital.gr.

Many petrol trading companies experienced order increases of up to 40 percent in the final month of 2015, which came as respite amid a year of sharp fluctuations, good and bad news, all of which ultimately heightened insecurity, as it has become unclear how much further the price of crude can drop in the international market.

The local heating fuel orders boost in December, especially during the festive season, has been attributed to lower prices and favorable terms offered by competing suppliers.

Heating fuel prices, whose national average was less than 75 cents per liter and under 70 cents in the wider Athens region, have now fallen to levels of four years ago.

Intensifying rumors of limited heating fuel subsidies that could be swiftly absorbed by entitled households also helped boost heating fuel demand.

Although this winter season has been mostly mild in Greece compared to last year, the sudden dip in temperatures experienced around the country during the New Year period also helped boost fuel demand.

Despite the late-year surge, 2015 ended as a subdued year, overall, for the fuel sector. Encouraging signs during the year’s first half were suddenly devastated by the arrival of capital controls in the summer. The restrictive banking measures altered the market’s sentiment and led to a drastic decline in demand. It took until October for the fuel market to regain some sense of balance. December’s boost will certainly offer some improvement to the sector’s overall results for 2015. The sector suffered a bad year in 2014, incurring an overall loss of some 65 million euros.