2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
The Federal Cartel Office has initiated proceedings against the oil multinationals. They are accused of having sold fuel to free petrol stations more expensive than to their own.
The Federal Cartel Office and the federal government want to put the dominant oil companies on a leash because of the highest gasoline prices of all time. Because the five oil multinationals are said to have sold free petrol stations at a higher price than their own, the competition authorities officially initiated proceedings on Wednesday. There have been a number of complaints from free petrol stations about the price demands of the mineral oil companies. They consider the accusation from the Cartel Office to be incomprehensible.
Federal Minister of Economics Rösler welcomes the approach
Federal Minister of Economics Philipp Rösler (FDP) welcomed the approach in terms of fair competition. The approximately 1,800 free petrol stations are dependent on deliveries from the refineries of the big five. Spokespersons for Aral and Shell said on Wednesday that they had installed mechanisms and systems for years to prevent such fuel sales at unfair prices.
The process is unlikely to have any impact on the consumer, especially since earlier advances by the competition guardians have often petered out. The Federal Cartel Office has been criticized for having been doing too little against the non-transparent pricing in the mineral oil sector for years.
Motorists in Germany currently have to pay more for refueling in Germany than ever before. Politicians are therefore discussing various ways of stopping the record levels at the petrol pumps - among other things, an increase in the commuter allowance was discussed by Rösler. It is currently 30 cents per kilometer and can be claimed on your tax return.
Check price chains for petrol stations
The federal states, but also the parliamentary groups of the Union and FDP, demand that the federal government and the cartel office examine price chains for petrol stations. A variant would be the model practiced in Western Australia, where every petrol station has to report to an authority the day before what price per liter will be charged the next day. This must not be changed for 24 hours.
Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt wants to check whether the model could only apply to the five dominant companies. The free petrol stations could then react to these prices at any time. The managing director of the Federal Association of Independent Petrol Stations, Axel Graf Bülow, emphasized that this proposal must be assessed calmly.
Because of the opaque pricing, the Left demanded approval for any increases. "Petrol prices must finally be limited and controlled in the interests of the citizens," said party leader Gesine Lötzsch in Berlin. The proceedings initiated by the Cartel Office are about the fact that BP, Aral, Esso, Jet, Shell and Total are said to have sold petrol and diesel fuel to free petrol stations in several cases at prices that were higher than at their own petrol stations. "We are consistently investigating such suspicions," said Mundt. Free gas stations would have to be supplied under fair conditions "in order to be able to compete with the oligopoly of the big five".
A spokeswoman for Minister Rösler welcomed the approach and referred to the latest government measures to keep a closer eye on the oil multinationals when it comes to pricing. The government has just permanently established the hitherto temporary ban on margin squeezes. According to this, the oil companies are not allowed to sell fuel to independent filling stations at a higher price than to their own customers. The independent petrol stations also welcomed the move by the competition authority. "We are pleased that this is now getting underway," said association boss Bülow of the dpa. The matter has been going on for over a year, now the data situation is obviously sufficient for the cartel office. "The complaints come regularly," said Bülow.
Legal clarification likely
He assumes that the dispute could ultimately end up in court, at the Cartel Senate of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court. Already in 2000 there was a similar procedure that was unsuccessful. Now there are greater chances of success, since such behavior by corporations has been prohibited by law for some time.
In the meantime, the mineral oil companies have widened the price gap between the cheapest type of petrol E10 and the most fueled fuel, Super E5, from three to four cents per liter. Shell and Aral justified this step with the different price development of petrol made from oil and the added organic components. The average prices in Germany are 1.68 euros for a liter of E10, 1.72 euros for Super E5 and 1.54 euros for a liter of diesel. (dpa)