Rising fuel prices: Why is refueling becoming more expensive?

This article is adapted from the business magazine Capital and is available here for ten days.

Rising fuel prices: Why is refueling becoming more expensive?

This article is adapted from the business magazine Capital and is available here for ten days. Afterwards it will only be available to read at www.capital.de. Like stern, Capital belongs to RTL Deutschland.

Anyone who fills up their tank these days is unlikely to fill up the tank completely: petrol prices have been rising since mid-March - and have even broken their annual high. According to ADAC, the nationwide daily average price for Super E10 was 1.833 euros per liter on Tuesday - 2.2 cents higher than a week earlier and 7.3 cents higher than on March 12th. Meanwhile, the price of diesel remains almost unchanged, standing at 1.732 euros per liter on Tuesday, just 0.2 cents higher than the previous week and 1.5 cents more than three weeks ago.

According to ADAC, the main driver for the increased gasoline prices is the parallel rise in the price of crude oil. The price of a barrel of Brent recently reached around $89, a level not seen since October last year. Just a week ago the price was around $86.

The price of gasoline is influenced by a variety of factors. The most important: the price of oil on the world market. Since fuels are made from crude oil, their price depends heavily on the price of oil. If it rises, fuel prices usually also rise. This is exactly what is being observed right now.

The war between Ukraine and Russia in particular is having an impact on fuel prices. Ukraine is currently increasingly attacking the infrastructure of the Russian oil industry - with significant consequences. Ukraine has focused on drone attacks on Russian refineries. At least eight refineries have been attacked since mid-March, which is estimated to have reduced refinery capacity by around 14 percent.

At the same time, the USA is planning sanctions against banks in China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, which are now delaying payments for Russian oil. The effects of this are already being felt in Russia. There are fears of fuel shortages and rising gasoline and diesel prices. Russia is already importing additional gasoline from Belarus to meet increasing demand.

The situation is still "fluid", but could have a significant impact on the global oil economy - and thus also on prices at the domestic pump.

A key factor driving up prices is growing uncertainty in the Middle East. After Israel allegedly carried out an airstrike on an Iranian embassy building in the Syrian capital Damascus, which resulted in several deaths, Iran is now threatening retaliation. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned that any attack on his country would have consequences.

In addition to the geopolitical uncertainty in the oil-rich region, the pricing policies of OPEC, the cartel-like organization of oil-producing countries, are also crucial. Despite the fluctuating market situation, OPEC recently decided to maintain its production cuts for the first half of the year.

Oil supplies have been strained for some time. Many companies avoid the Red Sea route due to the threat from Houthi militias. This indirectly leads to longer transport routes and therefore higher costs. In addition, this circumstance leads to a larger amount of oil being stored in tanks for a longer period of time and not being released for further processing and consumption.

Despite complex geopolitical developments, the ADAC automobile club gives pragmatic advice: If you fill up with gas, it is best to pay attention to the price differences throughout the day. According to an ADAC study, fuel is usually cheapest between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. This strategy could save up to 9 cents per liter.

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