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Filling Stations In Hungary Run Out Of Price-Capped Fuel

By 12/02/2022 2:53 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

As a result of a price ceiling set by the government, independent station owners in Hungary are increasingly reporting gas and diesel shortages at filling stations, and the state energy firm is finding it challenging to meet demand.

Hundreds of gas stations throughout Hungary have a disorienting mosaic of paper signs hanging from the pumps to inform customers of what is offered — or not — and at what price and quantity.

Martonvasar, a village 20 miles southwest of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, has one gas station where a sign notifies drivers that they can only buy two liters (a half gallon) of petrol at a lower price set by the government more than a year ago.

According to the station’s owner, the amount restriction results from the state energy corporation MOL’s three-week-long failure to deliver fuel to his business or others like it.

The fuel with a controlled price completely vanished from the market for these stations because the supply was decreased to zero, according to Laszlo Gepesz, owner of the tiny station and co-chair of Hungary’s Association of Independent Filling Stations.

The populist government of Hungary established a cap on fuel prices in November 2021, setting the upper limit for gasoline and diesel at 480 forints ($1.22) per liter.

Hungary’s gasoline imports fell as market prices increased, particularly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February; foreign suppliers considered the nation less desirable as a venue to sell, given the required discount prices.

Only the state energy corporation was left to generate diesel and gas for sale at a discount, and even then, it struggled to supply the less expensive fuel to the nation.

MOL claims that the refinery in Szazhalombatta in central Hungary only runs at about 50% of its standard capacity due to technical issues.

Lagging supplies have also disrupted Hungary’s oil supply through the Druzhba, or Friendship, pipeline, which transports crude from Russia via Ukraine to Hungary.

MOL declined to comment when contacted.

According to Gepesz, the proprietor of the Martonvasar station, usage has increased significantly in more than a year since the price ceiling was put in place, aggravating supply issues that have affected as many as 500 stations around Hungary.

He claimed that people are buying petroleum like there’s no tomorrow because inexpensive things run out more quickly.

The overall gasoline consumption of the nation has increased by 20 to 25% compared to last year, and not even MOL can provide this demand.

Gergely Gulyas, the chief of staff for Prime Minister Viktor Orban, stated at a news conference on Wednesday that the price cap, which has previously been extended multiple times, could only last as long as MOL can meet demand.

“If it can’t and (fuel) must be imported, the import price is far higher. So, the question is: How long can we continue to provide gasoline to the nation?

Russian gas and oil are heavily reliant on Hungary. Its administration has waged a fierce defense of European Union sanctions against Moscow, particularly those that would influence the import of fossil fuel products.

It has cited them as the cause of skyrocketing inflation and rising energy costs.

On Wednesday, Marika Vastag, 73, a farmer from the Pusztaszabolcs community, filled a 10-liter jerrycan with gasoline and paid the market rate because the station had not received reduced fuel in more than two weeks.

She affirmed Orban’s statements that the rise in energy prices was caused mainly by EU sanctions against Russia and accused the Union of putting pressure on Hungary to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels.

Since we depend on Russian energy for our fuel and oil, Vastag stated, “things would be better if the (European) Union would stop harassing us and stop demanding that we get off of Russian energy.”

We have to stick with people who help because, regrettably, we are not autonomous and lack what we need.

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