Dear petrol, does speculation really have anything to do with it?

For Matteo Salvini “there is someone who is being smart”. For Gilberto Pichetto Fratin a real one is underway speculation. The government’s position on the increase of petrol costs in the last few days it has been clear: to blame the high prices of the fuel to speculation.

But is it really so? It must be said, first of all, that the line of the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloniseems somewhat different and does not respond to the same insinuations launched by other government officials. The executive has asked the Guardia di Finanza to increase controls, but has also defended its choice of eliminate the cut in excise duties introduced by the Draghi government against the expensive petrol.

For Meloni, extending the cut would have been wrong because it would have taken away useful resources for other measures, such as cutting the tax wedge, increasing the single check or the social bonus in the bill. But if the prime minister claims her choice, it cannot be said that other government officials such as the deputy prime minister do the same, Matthew Salviniwhich refers to speculation.

But has this speculation really been there or rising petrol and diesel prices Is it in line with the non-deferral of the excise cut and with oil prices? Assuming that the cut was worth 18.3 euro cents per litre on petrol and diesel, let’s see whether or not we can really talk about speculation on the cost of fuel since the discount no longer exists (i.e. from 1 January 2023).

Gasoline speculation? Price comparison

The first data we can refer to is also the most official one: let’s talk about the weekly survey published by the Ministry of Economic Development. The prices we refer to are those registered between 1 and 8 January, i.e. as soon as the excise discount expired. For the petrol in self mode the price stands at 1.812 euros per litrefor the diesel to 1.868 euros per litre.

Then we take the data of the Previous week, the one from 26 to 31 December, before the failure to extend the cut. For petrol the price was 1.644 euros per litre, for diesel 1.707. So from week to week, with the cut not renewed, iThe price has risen by €0.168 per liter for petrol and €0.161 for diesel. To make it even simpler: against a missed discount of 18.3 cents, the price of petrol increased by 16.8 cents and that of diesel by 16.1. From this data it already seems difficult to speak of speculation, considering that the price has risen less than expected considering excise duties.

The daily prices of petrol and diesel

But let’s go ahead and try to consider the daily price change, based on the data processed by Quotidiano Energia. Let’s start from the last few days: the survey of 11 January (based, like all of them, on the prices of the day before) shows a cost for petrol in self-service mode of 1.822 euros per litre and for diesel, always in self mode, of 1.877 euros per litre.

The day before the figure was slightly lower: 1.820 euros per liter for petrol and again at 1.877 for diesel. January 9th prices were slightly higher: 1.821 euros per liter for petrol and 1.879 for diesel. From 9 to 11 January, therefore, we can say that the cost remained substantially stable.

Let’s try to go back a few days, for example to January 5th: self-service petrol cost 1.814 euros per liter and self-service diesel 1.875 euros per litre. Slightly less than today, but with a difference of less than one cent. Prices were lower on 3 January, but it must be said that, in many cases, the increases due to the failure to extend the cut had not yet been implemented.

Instead, let’s go back to the December 30th, when the cut of 18.3 cents was still in effect: self-service petrol cost 1.627 euros per litre, diesel 1.693. From December 30 to January 5, therefore, the cost of gasoline increased by 18.7 cents per liter and that of diesel at 18.2 cents a litre. Increases in line with excise duties (18.3 cents), all the more so if we remember that an increase in prices of around 2 cents was triggered on 1 January due to rising prices.

If we compare the data of December 30 with the last one, that of January 11, the increase for gasoline was 19.5 cents and for the diesel of 18.4 cents. A not excessive difference, therefore, compared to the missed cut for 18.3 cents per litre. Also in this case it seems difficult to speak of speculation.

Oil prices

Part of the price of petrol inevitably depends on the oil quotations. The reference index is that of Brentwhich has always been just above 80 since about mid-December, with a peak at the end of the month: from 82 dollars a barrel on 29 December it moved to a $85 on December 30th. Rise which led to an increase of about 2 cents on the price of petrol, to be added to the non-extension of the cut in excise duties.

On 3 January the reopening was always around an altitude of 85, which was followed – on the same day – by a descent with closure around 82. Then a descentwith January 4 at 78. Then the quotations went up again, returning above 80 on 9 January: since then it has always remained stable between 79 and 80 and even today we are again above 80. At values ​​very similar to those at the end of December (except for the peak on 30 December).

Gasoline, was there really speculation?

Beyond the price of petrol and oil prices, it should be considered that the final cost to the distributor is also determined by other factors: processing, refining, storage and distribution. All factors that lead to price increases also due to inflation. It also affects the dollar-euro exchange (the market, in fact, offers quotes in dollars: the stronger it is, the more the price can rise). In total the oil prices account for less than 30% on the cost of petrol.

In fact, more than 50% of the price of petrol in Italy is determined by theVAT and give it excise, then from taxation. Another element that is underlined by the Sole 24 Ore is that the cost margin, for distributors, is less than 12% on petrol and about 8% on diesel. All the more reason to believe that speculation is not very simple, considering that there is not much room for operators to change prices.

In conclusion, the price of petrol and diesel has increased linearly compared to failure to cut excise duties and it is not certain that there will not be a slight drop in the next few days following the drop in oil prices. In general, however, the price of fuel does not seem to have been affected by any speculationexcept for some isolated cases. On average, in fact, the cost to the distributor is exactly what one would have expected with the non-extension of the excise cut. In conclusion, Meloni is right and Salvini is wrong: the increase in petrol and diesel is due to one government choice and not speculation.

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Dear petrol, does speculation really have anything to do with it?

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