While fuels already exceed 1.80 euros per liter, oil is still at 120 dollars per barrel, 40 euros less than in the great crisis of 2008
The lack of control of fuel prices, installed in a spiral that has led them to increase their costs by about 15 euro cents in the last week after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, continues to not walk parallel to how the raw material of the one that supplies diesel and gasoline: the price of a barrel of Brent, still high, has not yet reached the maximum it reached in 2008, when it touched 140 dollars. this Wednesday, crude oil stood at 120 dollars per barrel. However, fuels have broken their own barriers with prices that had never been seen at service stations: 1.76 euros per liter of diesel, and 1.81 euros for gasoline, until this Wednesday. And more hikes are coming.
The gap between the cost of the raw material -crude oil- and the final product -fuel- is increasing. The evolution of both lines is increasingly separated to the despair of an economy to which this oil surcharge with respect to last year’s price could subtract some 15,000 million euros this year.
There is a basic reason that explains this evolution of fuels: the price of crude oil, although the correlation is more distant every day. “Not only does the cost of the barrel influence, but many other factors such as transport, the wholesale margin and especially taxes,” recalls Victoria Torre, director of Digital Offer at Singular Bank.
In the course of the last 14 years, each euro spent on fuel has been incorporating charges that are moving its cost away from oil: taxes and fees, on the one hand, but also the price increase of the entire product distribution chain , which represent 15% of the fuel. For their part, the direct taxes levied on fuel, such as VAT or Hydrocarbons, have not changed in recent years. But they represent about half. And with a growing tax base (the cost of fuel), the impact of taxes also increases in the final price.
In addition, there are the margins, which became negative in 2020, but since then they have not stopped climbing to the maximum of 2012. Luis Fernando Utrera, deputy director of the Master in Stock Exchange and Financial Markets of the IEB, estimates that together with the refining margin and at the currency exchange rate (oil is paid in dollars, which has appreciated against the euro), they take another 25 euro cents extra per liter.
The price of fuel hides another reality that little by little is permeating the pump: the decisions that the last governments have been adopting regarding energy. “It is evident that there have been increases in regulatory costs and taxes on those dates,” they highlight in the Spanish Association of Petroleum Products (AOP).
The energy efficiency fund, which was launched in 2014 to finance energy saving measures, is paid 50% by the oil companies. It represents an estimated cost of 200 million euros per year by half a thousand companies. On the other hand, biofuels began to be taxed as of 2013 at the same rate as other fuels. And there has also been another change: the harmonization of the sanitary cent upwards by almost five cents. “Only with these factors it would already be justifying that we are at maximum prices even though oil is not,” sources in the sector point out.
But the escalation of those public measures on fuels has not stopped, for now. Although the Treasury has parked the proposal to tax diesel more to match it with gasoline, that is the intention in the medium or long term. The other measure that, the oil companies warn, will impact the price of fuel will be the Fund for the Sustainability of the Electric System that is processed by the Ministry of Ecological Transition. It is a fund to pay the costs included until now in the electricity bill in order to pay the premiums for the old renewables, cogeneration and waste. It will be a transfer of the electricity bill – which could drop by 13% – to other consumption. Which ones? Basically, fuels, which will be taxed again in the coming years for being more polluting.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.