In the international refining markets, the price of diesel has reached 31 cents above that of gasolineThe advance of the lack of Russian diesel, problems in the refineries and the forecast of greater demand in winter drive pricesOil, meanwhile, marks a downward trend due to fears of a global economic recessionAfter reaching the highest prices in history at the beginning of summer, fuels have chained several consecutive weeks of declines to the relief of drivers. Gasoline has already become cheaper by 20% from its maximum levels; however, diesel has not followed the same path and its price has only fallen by 11% compared to the record registered in June. That downward price trend that they shared for much of the summer season was interrupted in mid-August, when diesel began a rebound that has led it to be above gasoline. And the difference in favor of the first only widens week after week. According to data from the latest Petroleum Bulletin of the European Union, the price of diesel is already almost 16 cents higher at service stations. This different behavior also means that gasoline is already below the price it marked when the bonus of 20 cents per liter was approved to deal with the impact on fuel of the Russian invasion. On the other hand, diesel, used by more than half of the passenger cars in Spain and practically all of the trucks, is still slightly above. This reduction in fuels is expected to continue until the end of the year, although the Government has already shown itself willing to study its extension if fuel prices make it necessary. Less Russian diesel and problems in refineries The surprise in the price of diesel The gasoline that has been produced in recent weeks can be explained by several reasons, but almost all of them have to do with the effects of the war in Ukraine. Russia is not only a very important exporter of crude oil to European countries, it is also an important exporter of already refined diesel, and many of them have a high dependence on this product, they explain from the Spanish Association of Petroleum Product Operators (AOP). And although Russian diesel still continues to arrive in the EU, the veto imposed by the European Union on the import of Russian oil from January 2023 and on derivative products two months later, already anticipates a lack of this product in the medium term and causes price tensions. In addition, Russian oil supply restrictions are creating bottlenecks at refineries. “Not all countries have flexible refineries, with the capacity to process numerous types and qualities of crude oil. If they have encountered problems in obtaining Russian oil and cannot substitute it for another, the result is that they cannot produce the diesel they consume,” AOP sources point out. In Spain, they explain, it has one of the most flexible refining systems in the EU (30 different types of crude are imported monthly from 20 countries), which means that dependence on a single supplier is reduced. “If Russia fails, it can be replaced by another type of oil that, although of poorer quality, can be processed and the same product obtained. This means that prices affect us like others, but we can be much calmer in terms of security of supply.” These two aspects, the lack of Russian diesel and problems in the refineries, have triggered prices in recent months. of listing in the international refining markets that, although they are related to those of oil -its raw material-, can follow different dynamics. For Spain, the international markets of reference for refining are Rotterdam and the Mediterranean, and in them this strong increase in diesel has been reflected, reaching up to 31 cents above gasoline. “The high consumption of diesel in the automotive industry in Europe, unlike in Asia or the United States where the demand for gasoline is greater, precisely at this tension in supplies due to the war conflict, means that the effect on the price of diesel on the market international is greater”, they explain from the Association of Operators of Petroleum Products. To these two conditioning factors a third has been added for a few weeks: prices are already anticipating the arrival of winter, since diesel is also used as fuel for heating and this (along with its use in some industries to replace gas) predicts a strong increase in demand. “There is already beginning to be nervousness in the markets,” say the experts. Diesel on the rise, and oil on the downside? Although there are no signs that these aspects that have driven the price of diesel to rise will change in In the short term, there are other factors that influence the markets. The most important, now, is the possibility of a global recession caused, to a large extent, by monetary policies to curb inflation. The rise in interest rates and the uncertainties about the behavior of demand and economic growth explain the downward trend in oil prices in recent months. Brent crude, a benchmark in Europe, stood at 90.62 dollars per barrel this Thursday, almost 27% below the maximum reached in June. For a month and a half, oil has generally traded at levels lower than those it marked before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its prices have not even accused the announcement of the military mobilization announced this week by Putin, which would mean an escalation in the conflict. . So much so that in this environment of falling prices, the member countries of OPEC will take, from the beginning of next month, a cut in oil production of 100,000 barrels a day.
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