LFor a long time there was a rule of thumb for drivers. Diesel cars were slightly more expensive to buy than petrol ones. But the fuel was cheaper, also thanks to a more favorable taxation. That’s why people who drove a lot of long distances were more likely to buy a diesel, while others were more likely to buy a petrol engine. Then everything got mixed up with the diesel scandal, diesel’s reputation for being better for the environment was gone. Accordingly, the traffic light coalition had resolved to abolish the tax concession for diesel. So far this has not happened. Instead, there are now other circumstances that ensure that diesel is significantly more expensive than Super E10 for the first time in recent history – and the price is even increasing from week to week.
Crude oil has become a little cheaper again
The figures from the ADAC car club, which evaluates the prices of more than 14,000 gas stations every week, prove this again. According to this, you now have to pay an average of 2.147 euros for a liter of diesel, which is 0.3 cents more than a week ago. Super E10, on the other hand, costs 1.939 euros per liter, which is even 1.7 cents less than a week ago.
The car club explains the decline in the super price with the lower price for crude oil by around 4 dollars per barrel (barrel of 159 liters) for the North Sea Brent. “The situation with diesel is far more complicated,” writes the ADAC. “This is where special factors come into play.”
In any case, almost 21 cents per liter more for diesel than for super is exceptionally high. Normally it’s the other way around, the tax advantage alone makes diesel around 20 cents cheaper, even if the price difference always fluctuates a little over the course of the year.
What’s behind it? Various global political developments are currently being reflected at the gas station. In the case of petrol, it is noticeable that the oil states are not managing to drive up the price of oil by cutting back on production as hoped. They are battling recession worries.
Two weeks ago, the states of the oil association OPEC plus decided to reduce oil production more in November. Since then, the conflict with the United States, which absolutely did not want this, has intensified considerably. US President Joe Biden announced “consequences”. “This week, Biden is to announce the release of the remaining 14 million barrels from the 180 million barrels previously planned for the strategic reserve,” write the analysts at Commerzbank.
In the case of diesel, on the other hand, the Ukraine war plays an important role. The production of heating oil and diesel are closely related. At the moment, however, not only the demand for heating oil from private households is rather high due to the beginning of the heating season. There are also numerous companies that normally use natural gas in their production, but can switch to heating oil and therefore stock up on supplies. The ADAC speaks of a “high demand in the industry as a gas substitute”.
The car club considers both petrol and diesel to be “overpriced”. The Federal Cartel Office has also announced that it intends to take a close look at the market. However, a possible expansion of the margins is certainly not sufficient as an explanation for the unusually strong price increase, especially for diesel compared to Super. “Prices are also supported by the ongoing strike in refineries and fuel depots in France, which is leading to a shortage of petrol and diesel,” write the analysts at Commerzbank in their commodities report.
Inverse price ratio for the first time in March
Diesel became more expensive than Super E10 for the first time in March after the start of the Ukraine war. That had not existed nationwide until then, at most it had happened at individual gas stations in 2019. In that year, the price ratio between petrol and diesel had shrunk to an average of 7 cents at times, and in some cases this had meant that diesel was more expensive than petrol. At that time, in addition to the weather, the economy also had to serve as an explanation. Companies use diesel rather than petrol; when things are going well for them, demand for diesel increases.
In March of this year, the high diesel price was explained, among other things, by the fact that Germany obtains diesel directly from Russia. In the meantime, however, the price ratio had reversed itself again; apparently the oil companies were at least partially able to adapt to the new situation.
During the period of the tank discount in Germany, i.e. from the beginning of June to the end of August, the Super E10 was much cheaper than diesel because the taxation, which is lower for diesel anyway, was reduced less. Of course, this effect no longer applies since the end of the tank discount. Reactions to a feared gas shortage this winter seem to be crucial for the diesel price rally.