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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Fuel prices still artificially high ]

Fuel prices still artificially high

OIL IMPORTERS are keeping fuel prices artificially high, a senior government official insisted yesterday, despite the fact pump prices are set to drop over the next couple of days.

Two companies have already cut euro diesel by about 1.6 cents a litre, and the rest are expected to follow suit today or tomorrow at the latest.

For euro diesel, Petrolina now charges 77.3 cents, down from 78.8 a few days ago; EKO’s price is 77.3 cents compared to 77.9; and Lukoil today is set to cut its price to 77.1 from 78.3.

No price cuts are expected for unleaded 95 petrol, which sells for 79.5 to 79.9 cents a litre.

But Solon Kassinis, head of the Energy Department at the Commerce Ministry, said oil companies were not doing enough.

“The reductions are welcome.but there is still a wide margin for further drops,” Kassinis told state radio.

The Energy Department estimates that the combination of a falling dollar and ship transportation costs allows for a price drop of up to 10 cents a litre for euro diesel.

But oil importers are not playing ball, cutting their prices by only around 4 cents a litre in recent weeks, Kassinis said. The same went for heating fuel.

The official challenged the companies to explain how, citing their own figures, they appeared to be buying fuel from abroad at June 2007 costs, whereas global oil prices have fallen sharply in the meantime.

Kassinis declined to comment on the notion that Commerce Ministry’s price watchdog did not see eye to eye with him.

“All I have to say is that each time I have come out and said that fuel prices are too high, the prices subsequently fall,” he said.

Meanwhile Pambinos Charalambous, head of the association of petrol station owners, denied companies were engaging in illegal price collusion, after a cursory examination indicated that they were all charging nearly identical prices.

He said the similarities could rather be explained by market competition, as one company strived to match another’s pricing.

“In any case, it is the companies that set prices, not us,” he offered.

The Commerce Ministry has long been claiming that the newer stocks of fuel should translate into lower prices at the pump. Oil companies counter that they are still dealing in older shipments.

Asked how frequently shipments are received, one petrol station owner told the Mail:

“We don’t know…they [the companies] don’t tell us these things.”

(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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