Golob says shortage of fuel a scandal

Ljubljana – Prime Minister Rober Golob said on Monday he found it scandalous that several petrol stations around the country ran out of fuel on Sunday and today as drivers rushed to service stations in anticipation of Tuesday’s price hike stemming from a new pricing model kicking in.

Fuel retailers claim this happened due to a rise in demand and problems with supply, while Economy Minister Matjaž Han assured the public today there were sufficient reserves of fuel in the country.

“I think this is a scandal in every aspect,” Golob said, noting that retailers should have foreseen the rise in demand and prepare for it better.

“I understand that on the one hand the pressure with the people was somewhat greater due to the announced price hike, on the other hand, the obligation of retailers is very clear – they should have made sure they don’t run out of fuel, which was what happened all over the country at the same time,” he said after today’s meeting with public sector trade unions.

He stressed that since petrol stations ran out of fuel across the country “this means that the situation could have been anticipated and appropriate action taken”.

Golob also expects a report from market inspectors who are on the ground today to examine whether retailers comply with the current regulated price and to check sales and stocks, and whether consumers are possibly being mislead.

“I didn’t imagine something like this happening, not because of the people but that somebody would not better prepare for such situation because of pure speculating over a few euros,” the prime minister said.

Labour Minister Luka Mesec also commented on the issue in Maribor today, saying that if speculations were involved and fuel retailers deliberately did not want to sell fuel before the price hike, this “means that they are using the crisis for their own profit and pushing people into poverty to make money during a crisis”.

He said this was not just dishonest, but morally wrong and should be “punished in the strongest terms”.

The chairman of energy company Petrol, Nada Drobne Popovič, denied the shortages were created by fuel retailers to profit from higher prices as of Tuesday.

She also said that although the company, the largest fuel retailer in Slovenia, put all the available tankers in Slovenia in service already last Wednesday, they could not guarantee that the problems will be eliminated after midnight.

“We are filling all service stations to full capacity,” she assured, announcing that by Friday at the latest, the entire network would be back to normal.

But if the pressure remains as it is now over the next few days, deliveries to some stations could take even longer.

She provided some statistics: since Thursday, Petrol has seen a 500% increase in foreign truck sales and a 300% increase in sales along motorways.

“When a fuel truck arrives at a service station, the fuel is sold within three hours at the average service station,” she said.

The Democrats (SDS), which have until recently led the government, meanwhile pointed their finger at the new government.

MP Branko Grims said it “has proved to be totally incompetent and uncooperative” on the issue of fuel prices, as he gave a new conference about another topic.

He wonders what signal fuel shortages at the start of the tourist season across the country send abroad, stressing that “the damage is irreparable”.

If this was a responsible government, it would have met form an emergency session on Sunday, would have acted and prevented this speculative shortage of fuel, Grims said.

The demand for motor fuel has increased this weekend 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 fully 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 across the country.

From tomorrow outside motorways, regular petrol will cost EUR 1.755 a litre while diesel will cost EUR 1.848 until 4 July, when the prices will be adjusted again.

Predsednica uprave Petrola Nada Drobne Popovič je v luči očitkov, da so pomanjkanje goriva trgovci načrtno ustvarili, danes v izjavi za več novinarskih hiš poudarila, da ne izigravajo sistema ter goriva ne blokirajo zaradi torkovih podražitev.

Po njenih besedah sicer ne morejo zagotoviti, da bodo po polnoči težave z gorivom odpravljene. “Mi smo vse razpoložljive cisterne, ki so na voljo v Sloveniji, že od srede naprej dali v sistem. Na polno polnimo vsa prodajna mesta,” je zagotovila in napovedala, da bo najpozneje do petka vsa prodajna mreža normalno vzpostavljena. V družbi so namreč opozorili, da bo dobava, če bo pritisk tudi v naslednjih dneh ostal takšen, kot je zdaj, do nekaterih točilnih mest lahko trajala tudi do petka ali pa še dlje.

Stanje je predsednica uprave največjega naftnega trgovca ponazorila tudi s številkami. Od četrtka do danes beležijo 500-odstotno večjo prodajo tujih tovornjakov ter 300-odstotno večjo prodajo na avtocestnem križu. “Ko cisterna pride na bencinski servis, jo na povprečnem prodajnem mestu v treh urah že prodajo in izpraznijo,” je povedala.