Germany: Economy Minister wants an investigation into high fuel prices

Despite falling oil prices, the cost of gasoline and diesel in Germany is hardly falling. Economy Minister Habeck has asked the Federal Cartel Office to investigate the matter. The Federal Cartel Office is closely monitoring the development of the situation in connection with the sharp increase in the price of gasoline and diesel. “Due to the geopolitical situation, the prices have risen in a shocking manner,” said Andreas Mundt, president of the Bonn-based office.

Strong position of large gas station chains in Germany

“If oil prices are now falling again and gas station prices don’t follow this trend or even go up, we need to take a close look at this,” – said Economy Minister Robert Habeck, who has asked competition authorities to investigate. “We have asked the Federal Cartel Office to monitor gasoline and diesel prices very closely and to take action if there are any signs of abuse,” – The Green politician said.

The strong position of large gas station chains on the German fuel market has long been a structural problem, the minister said. “Companies must not make undue profits from the current situation,” – Habeck said. He continued, “If there are indications of this, for example also when comparing price developments in other EU countries, we will prepare legislative measures to enable the Federal Cartel Office to better monitor the fuel market.” The Ministry of Economic Affairs does not have the authority to issue instructions to the Cartel Office. However, it can ask the office to take action in critical situations.

Little relief despite falling oil prices

After huge price increases in recent weeks, fuel prices in Germany have been slowly falling recently. Diesel fell 1.5 cents to cost an average of 2.292 euros per liter in Germany on Tuesday, according to ADAC data. E10 costs 1.1 cents less making it 2.192 euros per liter. However, prices at gas stations are much higher than before the start of the war in Ukraine. Oil prices, on the other hand, are again close to pre-war levels. A barrel (159 liters) of Brent crude oil cost about $100 on Wednesday, or just under 91 euros. According to ADAC, this represents a $25 drop in prices compared to the previous week.

Different reasons for high fuel prices in Germany

However, the Federal Cartel Office pointed out that in addition to changes in crude oil prices, other market phenomena, caused by the crisis in Ukraine and disruptions at the level of refineries and wholesalers, can also influence the price level at gas stations. In the case of individual products, imports from Russia also play a significant role. Therefore, the authority announced that it will observe all levels of the market: from the crude oil market, through refineries, wholesale trade, to gas station operators. A comprehensive observation of “all stages of the value chain” is “essential” to assess the situation, President Mundt said.

According to its own information, the Bundeskartellamt uses data from the Fuel Market Transparency Unit in its monitoring. It currently receives information on prices from various suppliers, but not on volumes sold. “A legal obligation for market participants to report volume data to the Market Transparency Unit would significantly increase the information value of our data,” – Mundt explains.


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