03/09/2020 - 18:25
The 25% drop in the price of a barrel of Brent oil, which is used as a reference to establish local fuel prices, set off alarms in the government, oil companies, provinces, service stations and consumers. The Minister of Productive Development, Matías Kulfas , held a meeting with Guillermo Nielsen , president of YPF on Monday to talk about it.
"The decision is to prioritize national sources of work," they said in official sources. The translation could be that there will be - at least, by this picture of a global fall due to the coronavirus and the lack of agreement between the OPEC countries for oil prices - some fall in the price of fuels.
"Just as there was an episode of tension between the United States and Iran that caused an increase in crude oil and that did not move to rise in prices in the local market, for now we are considering what happens as a timely episode and there will be no immediate changes ", characterized in the Executive Power,
Fuel prices try to reflect the price of oil based on an armed series on a "moving average" of one month. In this way, the oil companies do not analyze reducing fuel amounts . At least, until the international price scenario is clear, since now everything is affected by the collapse of this Monday.
Current fuel prices reflect a barrel of oil at about US $ 50, at the official exchange rate . At this time, the companies would be earning from the sale of gasoline, something that did not happen to them in the summer, when the barrel was for US $ 60 and the companies argued that they lost 15%, because what they charged the consumers did not it was enough for them to make their refining business profitable.
Does the government have room to lower prices? If you want a free market, you could do it, as can happen in other markets if the fall is a trend beyond these days. But in the Executive Power they see another series of consequences. A decrease in prices can lead to lower tax collection , decrease in activity (and employment), decrease in royalties charged by the provinces. And, as if that weren't enough, the YPF action - which is hit very hard - would feel the effect much more.
Guillermo Nielsen, president of YPF.
The development of Vaca Muerta would also be unfeasible with this scenario .
To avoid the "spikes" of the international price, the Kirchner administrations were managed with "Creole barrel". This is how a domestic oil price was determined, different from the international one. That isolated consumers from the global ups of this "commodity", but also from the downs.
The administration of Mauricio Macri called for a "convergence" of international prices with local prices. Since September 2017, it was in force. But then it was modified - in fact - by successive urgencies of the previous Government.
Some oil companies want to talk about "Creole barrel" again. The issue was not between what Nielsen and Kulfas spoke. In the sector stand out the integrated companies (produce and refine, such as YPF and PAE), while there are those that only refine, such as Raizen (markets the Shell brand) and Puma.
Everything indicates that, when the hot flush passes, work will be carried out on a scheme where taxes act as a "bellows": they will rise when crude oil falls internationally, and will fall when the opposite happens. These tax modifications were already presented to the President and the Vice President. Both are studying them.
Naphtha pay fuel and carbon tax. In the Government they study an idea, also propitiated by the companies. so that these taxes accompany the rise and / or fall of the barrel of crude oil. By law, in March he had to raise the tax on the transfer of fuels, whose technical name is ICL. The Executive Branch decided to postpone it for April.