Spain: CNMC opens investigation into these gas stations for alleged “unfair practices” with their fuel discounts

CNMC opens investigation into gas stations
Image courtesy of Motorpasion – CNMC opens investigation into gas stations

The National Market and Competition Commission (CNMC) opened an investigation into three large gas stations due to “possible anti-competitive practices” which are related to fuel discounts. Although the agency has not confirmed it, it is: Repsol, cepsa Y BP.

This is how the oil companies themselves report to various sources after having been the subject of multiple complaints filed by two associations of independent operators. They consider “that the aggressive discounts” of the three companies have been leaving them out of the Spanish market for months. It should be remembered that these oil companies discount up to 10 cents per liter, apart from the 20 cents from the Government of Spain.

Aggressive Gas Station Strategies

As indicated by the CNMC in its statement, these investigations “to various active operators in the Spanish energy sector” by the possible unfair competition began between November 28 and December 2, following the presentation of multiple complaints.

According to what was confirmed by sources in the sector to El País, these complaints come mainly from two independent operators who accuse the oil companies of violating competition regulations in order to boost their profits even more.

The operators, whose names are unknown, denounce an abuse of the final consumer at service stations through their “aggressive discount policy”, as well as in the high prices that they set at independent gas stations to those who provide fuel.

Image courtesy of Motorpasion – CNMC opens investigation into gas stations for unfair practices

According to the smaller operators, the combination of both practices is taking them out of the market. And this is added to “the lack of liquidity that has been suffocating them for months,” as Nacho Rabadán, the head of the Spanish Confederation of Service Station Entrepreneurs (CEEES), declared last April to Motorpasión.

A CNMC investigation of gas stations: the end of the discount is near

According to reports from the CNMCIn the midst of the energy crisis and with the price of fuel rising like foam, the oil companies brought their gross profit margins to record levels in July after imposing a discount of 20 cents on fuel.

And if the horizon is extended to the last ten years, the gross distribution margin of the gas stations is growing upwards, that is, they are earning more and more money per liter sold. According to the CNMC, these margins doubled between 2012 and 2020, in the case of gasoline from 11% to 21% and in the case of diesel from 12% to 22%.

CNMC opens investigation into gas stations for unfair practices
Image courtesy of Motorpasion – CNMC opens investigation into gas stations for unfair practices

The CNMC inspections of the gas stations represent a preliminary step in the investigation process of the alleged “anti-competitive practices” and do not prejudge the result of the investigation or the culpability of the entities.

If, after the inspection, indications of practices prohibited by the Law on the Defense of Competition and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union are found, a formal disciplinary proceeding will be initiated.

In accordance with the regulations, anti-competitive practices and abuses of a dominant position constitute a very serious offense of competition law. This can result in fines of up to 10% of the companies’ total turnover in the year before the fine was imposed.

Image courtesy of Motorpasion – Fuel discounts at Spanish gas stations

15 days after the end of the 20-cent bonus on fuel, and without knowing if it will maintain this bonus after December 31, the research of the CNMC It would mean a bucket of cold water for the aforementioned oil companies.


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Font: motorpassion

About Alicia Peters

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