The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection analyzes retail and wholesale prices offered by PKN Orlen in October and wanted to check whether reduced margin practices were applied. This is the result of the Ministry of Energy's response to Parliament's interpellation.
The question of the situation on the fuel market in Poland was put in interpellation by MP Zofia Czernow and Aldona Młyńczak. As stated by experts' opinions, in early October (before municipal elections – ed.), Prices of diesel oil at stations were lower than wholesale prices.
"One of the potential causes of this phenomenon is the possible introduction of a price ceiling of oil companies belonging to the treasury fund: Lotos Group and PKN Orlen," – explained the MEPs.
In their opinion, companies decided to pay extra to every liter of diesel sold, in order to maintain the assumed price level, avoid price increases and at the same time – as dominant market participants – affect the other market players from the fuel sector will adopt similar prices. "
At the same time – as they pointed out – the situation in the global fuel market did not create the conditions for a possible reduction in both diesel and petrol prices. In September and October, the Brent crude bar was rated for a maximum of four years. The West Texas Intermediate tunnel was also maintained at high levels during this time.
"Has the Energy Ministry implemented or intends to carry out analyzes that will indicate the causes of the phenomena described in this interpellation? Has the Energy Ministry implemented or intends to take measures to control pricing policies adopted by Grupa Lotos and PKN Orlen to analyze whether it was intentional reduced price of diesel oil to avoid increases? "- asked the deputies of PO.
The orleans under the magnifying glass of UOKiK
State Secretary of the Energy Ministry Tomasz Dąbrowski in response to the interpellation admitted that in October there was a significant increase in wholesale prices for diesel oil, both in Polish and European markets. Among the reasons, he pointed, among other things, to rising oil prices and disturbances on the diesel oil market in Europe.
"Polish retail prices for diesel fuel also increased in October this year, but slower, in
compared with wholesale prices. Analyzing wholesale and retail prices continuously can be seen
that wholesale prices for diesel oil were higher, which translates into negative margins of sellers
retail. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the retail market for the retail trade usually reacts late with changes in wholesale prices, Dąbrowski explained.
Retail is part of the price of one liter of fuel and not only the station's owners' profits, but also the amount that allows to cover the costs of driving the station.
Dąbrowski added that "the analysis of available data shows that the sudden rise in diesel oil prices in bulk in early October translated into much higher retail prices in the second half." At the same time, he stated that "in November this year, the wholesale price of diesel fuel will decrease systematically, which at the same time does not mean a reduction in retail prices for this fuel."
State Secretary at the Ministry of Energy informed that UOKiK analyzes retail and wholesale prices offered by PKN Orlen, who wishes to check whether the practice of reduced margins is applied.
"In view of suspicions of irregularities in the fuel market in October this year, UOKiK announced that a preliminary analysis of wholesale and retail prices offered by PKN Orlen SA is currently being conducted to determine whether reduced margin practices are used," – wrote a representative of the Ministry.
See the energy ministers response to Parliament's interpellation
Until the publication of the material, we could not get the PKN Orlen comment.
In early November, chairman of PKN Orlen Daniel Obajtek fromHowever, he motivated the company to "try to maintain its volume by increasing the volume prices"fuels", even if it has no effect pricesoil water.
"We do everything like the Polish oil concert to get these pricesy was stabilized, as it has a very big impact on the economy – he stressed Obajtek.
"Wonders" at stations "
Experts have already pointed out the issue of the margins used by oil problems. "This is the moment when station owners stand for the lost margin, which was not present at the stations in October, especially diesel," said TVN24 BiS Urszula Cieślak from BM Reflex in mid-November, commenting on the lack of response to falling oil prices.
According to David Czopek from the Polaris Investment Fund, municipal elections could have influenced the price performance. "Miracles happen at the gas stations," he said.
Corporations in Poland
According to the data of the Polish organization of oil industry and trade, at the end of September, PKN Orlen had the most stations – 1774, including 57 under the Bliske logo. These are two stations less than the end of 2017, but at the same time 16 more than the end of September last year.
BP was second. 542 items belonged to the network, compared with 537 at the end of last year. Lotos group came third. The company had 488 stations in its portfolio, including 198 under the Optima logo.
Immediately behind the podium was Shell with 420 items. The first five were completed by CircleK, 348 stations belonging to the network.