STA, 20 June 2022 - As drivers are rushing to service stations in anticipation of a price hike on Tuesday, which resulted in some stations running out of fuel, Economy Minister Matjaž Han assured the public that there were sufficient reserves of fuel. This is not a major market disruption, but a logistical problem, he said, also announcing inspections.
Speaking to the press in Ljubljana on Monday, Han admitted that occasional shortages of fuel had occurred in some parts of the country over the weekend, and that this was also happening today.
The minister noted that distributors reported that sales had more than doubled, adding that nevertheless there should be no fears that Slovenia would run out of motor fuels, which was also being guaranteed by distributors.
According to Han, the problems are related to logistics, which is in part a normal occurrence ahead of announced changes in prices.
He, however, also noted that traffic had been heavy in Slovenia over the weekend due to holidays in the neighbouring countries, which had also slowed down the delivery of fuel to petrol stations.
The commodity reserves of petroleum are full, Han said, explaining that the state could release them only in the event of major market disruptions, which was currently not the case.
The minister noted that the state could not release commodity reserves to regulate prices of petroleum products, as the quantity of commodity reserves was required by the EU. "There are enough [reserves] for 90 days in case of any disturbances."
The ministry is closely monitoring the developments, and a meeting with distributors will be held today to clarify the situation.
What is more, market inspectors are on the ground to examine whether retailers comply with the current regulated price and to examine sales and stocks, and whether consumers are possibly being mislead, the minister said.
"If it turns out that there have been violations of law, our inspection services will take action," he said, adding that the first information will be available already this afternoon.
The demand for motor fuel has increased after the government last week adopted a decree that reintroduces regulation of prices of regular petrol and diesel outside of the motorway network for a year, and liberalises prices on the motorway network.
The decree that also suspended certain environmental duties that determine the final price of fuel ends the regulation that entered into force on 11 May and that set the price of regular petrol at EUR 1.56 and diesel at EUR 1.668 per litre.
"The price at petrol stations outside motorways will be set every 14 days under the model set out in the regulation," said Han, who expects that the prices on motorways will be similar to those in the neighbouring countries, despite the inevitable increases.
Considering the recent rise in petroleum and petroleum products and the still weak exchange rate for the euro, a significant rise in prices is expected on Tuesday despite the restrictions on margins and the abolition of certain excise duties.
The business newspaper Finance has calculated that the price of regular petrol in Slovenia will increase to EUR 1.74 and that of diesel to EUR 1.81 per litre. Han said that the official prices would be known around 5pm today.
Han also touched on aid to farmers and hauliers, saying that the precise measures to help hauliers have not yet been agreed, as the government was waiting for concrete proposals from the other side. Farmers are expected to be reimbursed for excise duties.
The minister announced that the government will reject all claims for damages due to price regulations filed by fuel retailers, noting that "we have no data or basis on which these claims have been filed."
"We will start talks with retailers today about how, if at all, the state will reimburse them retroactively," Han said.
The previous government had indicated it would reimburse the fuel trades for the loss of income from a period in the spring when prices were capped, but the previous economy minister had later said this would not entail automatic reimbursement.