In a surprising turn of events during the festive season, fuel prices in Poland are anticipated to dip, with gasoline potentially plummeting to 6.35-6.40 PLN per liter and diesel to around 6.5 PLN. This comes despite OPEC+ announcing cuts in oil supply, causing global oil prices to tumble and fostering four consecutive weeks of declining fuel prices. For the week of 11-17 December 2023, e-petrol.pl predicts average fuel prices to hover at these lower levels.
Fuel Margins Remain High Despite Drop in Wholesale Prices
While wholesale prices have seen a fall, retail fuel margins stay high, with gasoline margins lying between 45-50 groszy per liter and diesel around 30 groszy. These figures stand significantly higher than the yearly averages of 14 groszy for gasoline and 10 groszy for diesel. According to Jakub Bogucki, a fuel market analyst from e-petrol.pl, these retail margins could be potentially higher when factoring in undisclosed purchasing discounts.
Bogucki elucidates that these high retail margins act as a buffer to prevent sudden price hikes at fuel stations, which could trigger driver panic and prompt customer shifts to more economical stations. Interestingly, he also points out that fuel stations often garner higher margins on commodities like alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and automotive accessories than on fuel itself.
'Fuel Miracle' and Price Normalization
In the run-up to the parliamentary elections, Poland witnessed a 'fuel miracle' with Orlen maintaining fuel prices at 5.99 PLN per liter, a number not in line with neighboring markets where prices were on an upward swing. Following the elections, the process of price normalization commenced. Recent data from the European Commission reveals that gasoline is cheaper in Poland in comparison to several EU countries, although diesel prices are lower in some other countries.
Room for Further Price Reductions
The article asserts that fuel stations have ample scope for further price reductions, yet they opt to maintain a significant margin. This raises questions about the dynamics of Poland's fuel market and the driving forces that keep retail prices higher than necessary. As the Christmas season approaches and fuel prices drop, the spotlight is on these fuel stations and whether they will pass on the benefits of lower wholesale prices to the customers.