Fuels, in record, rise five cents after a month of bonus

Service station in Burgos. / CR

Resentment of the Executive, which analyzes whether the oil companies take advantage of the aid to raise prices while crude oil is at the same level as in April

Jose Maria Waiter

The always volatile and complex fuel market is being scrutinized these days like never before by drivers who come to a service station to refuel; and also the Government itself, which begins to glimpse signs that are not to its liking in the pumps. Because the price of fuel has already exceeded its own record, reaching references never seen before at gas stations a month after the activation of the state bonus that was intended to cushion the escalation of oil due to the war in Ukraine.

Since the anti-crisis decree came into force on April 1, a liter of gasoline and diesel now costs about five euro cents more than then. The measure put in place by the Executive included a state discount of 15 euro cents per liter (and up to 20 cents if it was a small or medium service station, that is, outside the large companies), plus five euro cents that Each oil company had to contribute. With the evolution of costs, these five euros have already eaten the bonus itself.

Specifically, the liter of diesel has risen more than 2%, mainly due to the increase of more than 10 cents per liter in the last two weeks. The average of this fuel is now 1.91 euros, a reference never seen before. At the beginning of April it was at 1.86 euros. Gasoline, for its part, has become even more expensive, 3.3% in the last month, going from almost 1.83 euros to the current 1.88 euros.

And meanwhile, the barrel of Brent, the first reference that can be taken into account to analyze fuels, has had a behavior that has taken it from the approximately 113 dollars at which it was listed at the end of March, until later falling to 98 dollars, and to pick up again in recent weeks to 113 dollars, again. That is, today it maintains the same cost. The companies in the sector insist that their prices are not set by Brent, but by the prices of gasoline and diesel in international markets, whose evolution is different.

It must be taken into account that at the end of March the price of crude oil was going down, and now it is in an upward trend. It does so after the announcement by the European Commission to veto imports of Russian oil in the coming months, which has once again put pressure on costs. In fact, the pumps have not yet transferred these rises to Brent.

These data have set off the first alarms in the Government. The economic vice president Nadia Calviño has already warned the energy companies that if they are raising prices "absorbing" the aid, they will withdraw the measures and will not extend them beyond June 30. "We have to analyze what the most effective measures are and if we see that any of them keep costs down because operators are raising prices and absorbing this aid, we will withdraw it," she insisted.

Changes in sight

For now, the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) is studying the behavior of fuel prices, although it does not yet have a conclusion in this regard. When you have it in your hands, as well as other data on the impact of the bonus measure, the Executive will study how the extension of this measure, which was in force until June 30, will be. There is the possibility of applying it based on income, as well as other options that are being considered based on the evolution of costs during the coming weeks, according to Executive sources.

Fuel prices are one of the reasons why the CPI is soaring, but Calviño is confident that the peak of inflation has been touched in March (9.8%) and will begin to fall in the second half of the year. The Government's forecast is that inflation will end the year at 6%.

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