The Big Fuel Price Con in Spain

fuel-spainYou may have noticed that fuel prices at the pump in Spain are hardly ever the same from one day to the next, and the latest news gives an insight into why this is.

On Mondays the Spanish Industry Ministry collects statistics of the actual prices of different types of fuel at the pump, these stats are then passed on to Europe. Brussels publishes every Wednesday a comparison table showing how much it costs to fill your tank in different EU countries. It turns out that in Spain in 2012 on 70% of Mondays fuel was cheaper only to go back up again by Wednesday!

Coincidence? Well, there’s going to be an official investigation and it will be interesting to see what excuse the Big Three that operate in Spain (Repsol, Cepsa and BP) can come up with, as the National Energy Commission will not be taking international crude price movements into account. Due to these price fluctuations, Spain went from being one of the countries in the EU with the highest fuel prices before tax to being one of the cheapest.

Added to this investigation, the Spanish Government has recently approved measures to limit the power of the big companies (although mainly aimed at Repsol) in order to increase competition and reduce the bureaucratic burden of opening new petrol stations for independent companies and supermarkets. The aim is to reduce the influence of the big companies on average fuel prices and should mean that consumers will be able to get cheaper fuel at a greater number of places than are currently available.

At the end of 2012, Spain had around 10,200 petrol stations, of which 2500 are run directly by one of the Big Three companies, 4000 sell under the brand name of one of these three but are actually agents and the other 4000 are independent with their own brand (including supermarkets). The new measures will mean that any company that already has over 30% of the market in a province in Spain will not be able to open any more petrol stations in that area.

But until these new petrol stations are built, don’t forget to use the official Industry Ministry website to find the cheapest fuel and when you’re on the move get an App installed on your smartphone such as:

  • Gasolineras Baratas (Android)
  • Gasolineras España (Android and iPhone)