The “tank discount” promises to lower prices at the pump by up to 35 cents per liter of petrol from Wednesday. But if you drive to the gas station on the first discount day, you could be disappointed. A small obstacle means that fuel prices are not likely to fall immediately everywhere.

Everything should get better on Wednesday, at least according to the plans of the federal government. From June 1st, the “tank rebate” will take effect, which significantly reduces the tax burden on fuel. According to the Treasury Department, the cut in energy taxes should make a liter of petrol 35.2 cents cheaper and a liter of diesel 16.7 cents cheaper.

But anyone who dashes to the nearest gas station on Wednesday could be disappointed: because it is by no means certain that the tax cut will arrive at the gas pumps immediately. The Ministry of Finance also recently emphasized that prices may only drop gradually. The reason: the energy tax does not only apply when you refuel, but beforehand in the refineries and tank farms.

This means that at the beginning of June, the petrol stations still had “old” fuel stocks in their warehouses, on which the original tax rate was still levied. Even fuel delivered Tuesday evening is subject to the higher rate. This puts gas stations in an awkward position: If they still charge the old price, they risk annoying customers. However, if they lower the price of the old stocks, they make losses.

The prices can therefore vary greatly from gas station to gas station at the beginning – depending on how many old supplies are still in stock. Very few operators would be able to afford “offering the more expensive petrol and the more expensive diesel purchased cheaper,” said Jürgen Ziegner, managing director of the central association of the petrol station trade, on Monday of the “Rheinische Post”.

On the other hand: Because the gas stations can only buy tax-reduced fuel from Wednesday, it is unattractive for them to fill their stores again in advance. Therefore, there are fears that there could be supply shortages on the first day of the tank rebate. Even mineral oil companies do not rule this out.

Because the logistics capacities for supplying the gas stations are already strained. “We informed the hauliers at an early stage that as part of the tax reduction, we will request the maximum number of drivers available under our contracts,” said the Shell petrol station chain in a statement. At Aral it is said that they have “prepared and the logistics chains are set up robustly”.

In any case, there is no obligation for gas stations and oil companies to pass on the tax cuts to customers. The setting of prices is primarily a matter for the market. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) wrote on Twitter on Monday that it was now “the task of the cartel office

How big the savings will ultimately be is unclear. A look into the past is only of limited help. A study by economist Monika Schnitzer on the 2020 VAT reduction together with her doctoral students Alina Sagimuldina and Felix Montag showed that only 60 percent of the tax reduction was passed on to consumers at gas stations – and only with a delay.

However, the public focus, which is on gas stations and mineral oil companies, is different this time – and there is still no experience for a reduction of this magnitude. Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt has already sent a warning to the industry via the “Bild” newspaper: “Every single one” of the 14,500 gas stations in Germany is being closely monitored.

with agency material