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Belgian petrol stations closing to avoid selling at a loss
Service stations across Belgium are making the decision to close in order to avoid selling petrol at a loss amid sharp increases in supply prices.
These price increases mean the maximum selling price to a motorist is lower than the purchase price from the supplier, Le Soir reports, and an emergency meeting is planned on Thursday to discuss potential actions for remedying the situation.
The rise of prices for petrol, diesel and heating oil this week was predicted, as the war in Ukraine causes already-soaring energy prices to increase even further.
Around 100 service stations stopped delivering petrol or diesel on Wednesday because of sales at a loss, confirmed BRAFCO, the federation of Belgian fuel traders, which had warned of an endangered supply.
“The situation has not improved in the meantime,” the federation said in a statement. “The service stations that still offer discounts have now almost completely disappeared from the landscape. This has never been seen before.”
Selling at a loss is prohibited in Belgium, in addition to being unsustainable for station operators, BRAFCO said.
“Since the purchase price of diesel for petrol stations and fuel traders is about five to six cents/litre (excluding VAT) higher than the maximum price that can be charged to the user, and for heating oil it is even about 15 cents/litre higher than the maximum price, petrol stations and traders lose a lot of money with each tank of fuel or each order of heating oil.”
They expect the federal government to respond on Thursday to the soaring oil prices, without which they plan to announce “more forceful actions”.
“In Belgium, we have about a hundred service stations that no longer deliver petrol or diesel. For heating oil, we now only serve people who have run out of fuel. Normal orders are postponed until next week,” explained Olivier Neirynck, technical director of Brafco.
Belgian households have struggled under the increase in energy costs, which are rising twice as fast as they are in other European countries.
The government announced measures designed to lessen the impact on consumers, but the war in Ukraine has only pushed prices even higher and renewed calls for the country to reconsider its planned nuclear exit.