The tank discount no longer applies as of September 1st. The tax rates on petrol and diesel are now 35 cents higher again. As a result, prices rose sharply again on the first day. But what happens next?

From June 1st to August 31st, the federal government lowered the energy tax for petrol and diesel to the minimum level under European law with the measure, trivially known as the “tank discount”. This reduced the tax rates for petrol by 29.55 and diesel by 14.04 cents per liter. In addition, less VAT was due as a result, which increased the saving to 35.2 cents for a liter of petrol and 16.7 cents for a liter of diesel.

In fact, fuel prices fell after the introduction of the tank discount. The nationwide average fell by 28.4 cents per liter for petrol and 12.5 cents per liter for diesel. So it becomes clear immediately: The mineral oil companies did not pass on the full savings to consumers. In the case of diesel, it only took two and a half weeks for the price per liter to reach the level of May 31 again. The price of petrol is still lower today than it was then.

From August 31 to September 1, the prices for petrol and diesel increased significantly nationwide. In some regions, the price increases are higher than the original tank discount. The nationwide average went up by 23.5 cents for petrol and 9.3 cents for diesel, i.e. well below the values ​​that would have been expected from the tank discount.

The ADAC believes that consumers should not be fooled by the current price increase, which was lower than the higher energy tax and VAT. “The petroleum industry has already created a price cushion again,” summarizes the association in a press release. The ADAC supports this with data, according to which the prices for petrol have already risen by 6.8 cents per liter in the past two weeks and for diesel by as much as 15 cents. Overall, the price increases since mid-August have been 30.3 cents for a liter of petrol and 24.3 cents for a liter of diesel. “The fuel prices have risen more than the elimination of the tank discount justifies,” says ADAC expert Katrin van Randenborgh to Bild, “there is no basis for that.”

“That was an announcement,” CDU social politician Dennis Radtke also criticized the price increases on Twitter.

Adrian Willig, managing director of the Fuel and Energy trade association, which includes BP, Shell and Total, justifies the current price increases with increased demand, tight capacities in refineries and logistical challenges. The latter includes, for example, the low water in the Rhine, which makes it difficult to transport fuel through Germany.

The association is right when it points to the low refinery capacities in Europe. In fact, these are lower because a lot of oil was already being refined in Russia and Ukraine before the Ukraine war. These capacities are now missing, which is why the costs have risen sharply. According to figures from BP, the refinery margin, i.e. the difference between the price of gasoline and unrefined oil, rose by almost 400 percent within a year. However, the big European oil companies such as BP and Total operate their own refineries. So if they cite higher refinery costs as the reason for price increases, these are costs that they mostly pay to themselves.

Unfortunately, there are currently signs of both rising and falling fuel prices. The good news includes the end of the summer holidays. Until September 12, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg will be the last federal states in which the holiday period will end. The end of summer is also expected to end the dry season, which is why the water level in the Rhine is rising again, making it easier to transport fuel. Also positive: The crude oil prices for the North Sea variety Brent have fallen by around 24 percent since the beginning of June and are unlikely to rise again in the medium term because global demand has fallen.

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The bad news is that the EU will expand sanctions against Russia from January. From the turn of the year, crude oil will no longer be imported from the state, and from March this will also apply to refined oil. This further reduces the refinery capacities. The refinery margin should therefore remain high and give oil companies an opportunity to easily justify price increases.

However, the companies have been under the surveillance of the Federal Cartel Office since March. Since then, the industry has been examining this more closely in order to counteract unreasonable pricing and price fixing. So far, no concrete measures have emerged from this, but that could change in the autumn.

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