Govt to intervene to prevent fuel price “explosion”

Medvode – The government will discuss rising fuel prices on Wednesday with two ministers assuring reporters on Tuesday that the government will step in to secure sufficient supplies from commodity reserves and a sustainable pricing policy.

Slovenia has sufficient reserves not to be hurt by somewhat prolonged disruption to supply of oil derivatives, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said during the government’s visit to the north of central Slovenian region.

He spoke as prices at the pump hit all-time highs today as a result of the impact of the war in Ukraine. Long lines formed at service stations yesterday as people rushed to fill up and some pumps run out of fuel.

“In line with the intervention from the commodity reserves, we will decide how to ensure a sustainable pricing policy in the coming month. In any case, the state will make sure that the prices won’t explode,” he said.

The government will intervene if necessary both in terms of volumes and prices. A session dedicated to this issue will be held on Wednesday and the Economy Ministry is working on various scenarios for the future, Počivalšek said.

The Commodity Reserves Agency told the STA that it held a reserve of petroleum products that significantly exceeded the 90-day average consumption in Slovenia. The exact quantity of commodity reserves, including petroleum products, is confidential.

Prime Minister Janez Janša, joined by Počivalšek and Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec, held a meeting with the country’s leading fuel retailers on Monday evening to discuss the stockpiles and supplies of oil derivatives over the next weeks and measures to ensure undisrupted supply even if supplies from Russia are suspended.

Počivalšek said the retailers briefed them on their reserves, supply flows and issues. “We in turn told them how we see a sustainable pricing policy in the future.”

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Matej Tonin described an embargo on gas and oil imports from Russia as the most powerful tool available to the West to stop Russian war in Ukraine as it would get to the “very heart” of its financing.

Such a move would be the quickest to stop the war. Thus, Slovenia’s position is that the sanctions should be stepped up to the maximum at once “even if it hurts us a little”.

Given that Russia provides about 12% of global oil supplies, Tonin is confident that Slovenian oil traders can find new suppliers.

Slovenia could weather the period of delays and disruption to supply with oil reserves. “With reserves, we give oil traders room for manoeuvre to secure other sources,” said Tonin.

Speaking of gas, he said there had been assurances from those responsible EU stockpiles were sufficient to get through the winter and spring as efforts were under way to replenish the stocks to the maximum extent.

Production could be stepped up by some European countries such as Norway while the EU is also in talks with the Arab world to increase supplies, he added.

The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry urged the government today to secure farmers fuel to work the land from commodity reserves in case of disrupted supplies, warning that the fallout from the war was huge already.