Intermarché, TotalEnergies, Système U: most fuel distributors have announced in recent hours efforts on their margins to drive down gasoline and diesel prices. It was not necessary to wait for the meeting organized on Tuesday by the Minister of Energy Transition for the first announcements to pour in. Agnès Pannier-Runacher had publicly asked this weekend for an "effort of solidarity" to the sector on prices at the pump, which already exceeds two euros per liter in some stations.
The distributors' measures have been widely welcomed by the government. "I thank Total and Intermarché for taking their responsibilities, and I expect other fuel suppliers and distributors" to follow this example, said the minister on RMC Tuesday morning. System U followed suit a few minutes later.
The oil company TotalEnergies, which manages a third of the service stations in France, has formalized the continuation of its price freeze at 1.99 euros per liter "beyond the end of 2023, as long as prices remain high". As for Intermarché and Système U, their managers announced operations to sell fuels "at cost price" – the last weekends of each month at the service stations of Intermarché stores.
These margin reductions are however "totally impossible" in independent service stations, warned a representative of the sector interviewed on France Info. "It is necessary to operate the service stations, pay the electricity bills, the maintenance of the equipment, so the sale of fuel to the service stations without margin, it is not possible, it does not exist," he continued, hammering that an independent service station "can not sell without margin".
No government rebate
This "effort" is requested by the government while the bill is increasingly heavy for French motorists. Pump tariffs continue their very spectacular surge that began in early July, according to calculations by Fig Data, based on public data from the Ministry of Energy Transition. Bad news that comes at the time of the major expenses of the back to school. And which spares above all no fuel.
The margins of distributors and refiners that the government hopes to see reduced, however, represent only a few cents of euros in the price of a liter of gasoline. "The price difference during our operations at cost price is not very big for the consumer, one or two cents at most," Dominique Schelcher, CEO of Système U, told France Inter. "At a time when purchase prices are rising, I add taxes and I myself will find myself at more than 2 euros per litre," he added.
Taxation accounts for more than 60% of fuel prices in France. This is why more and more actors are imploring the public authorities to engage in a rebate on fuel by lowering the taxes that apply to this product. But the government refuses to accept it. "The rebate is 12 billion euros for 10 cents of savings. It is a blind and very expensive measure for a result not very convincing, "justified Olivier Véran, spokesman for the government, on CNews Tuesday morning.