Mainland Portugal joined the liberalized fuel market in 2004. The government, at the time, waved the measure with the idea of promoting competition and benefiting consumers. But this initiative should be associated with “appropriate control and information of the public administration, in order to guarantee effective competition, the Competition Authority assuming an important role in this context”. The autonomous regions have not done so and, as such, the regional governments of the Azores and Madeira can continue to set maximum prices.
And the price difference speaks for itself. Currently, a driver on the mainland pays 2,214 euros per liter of gasoline, while in Madeira the driver pays 2,062 euros per litre. The difference is 0.151 cents. But the case changes if we compare with the Azores, where a driver pays for the same liter of simple gasoline less 0.411 cents, since the liter in the Azores is worth 1.803 euros. The case is not very different if the calculation is made at the price of simple diesel. In mainland Portugal, it costs 2.104 euros per liter and in Madeira 1.777: a difference of 0.327 cents. More or less the same as in the Azores, where a liter of diesel costs 1,747 euros. This means that, to refuel in the Azores, a driver saves 0.357 cents per litre.
The price of diesel is about to rise from Monday. After the liter of this fuel exceeded two euros per liter at the start of the week, next week it will increase by another four cents. Gasoline will drop another two cents, with values still very close to 2.30 euros per liter, if we do not talk about service stations on the motorways. Then the price is even higher.
Given this scenario of increases, the government will lower the PSI (Petroleum Products Tax) by 1.2 cents per liter for gasoline and 0.4 cents per liter for diesel. According to the Ministry of Finance, “the overall reduction in the tax burden on fuels has already reached 22.2 cents per liter of diesel and 26.3 cents per liter of gasoline, in addition to not updating the carbon tax to about 6 cents per liter”.
It is true that with this reduction, the government reaches the minimum limit of ISP for diesel defined by the European directive. And the ministry headed by Fernando Medina claims to have already asked the European Commission to suspend this limit, “the evaluation of the request by the services” of the Community executive is in progress.
According to the Mais Gasolina website, the days of successive oil records hitting Portugal are long gone. We were in 2008, but the average for that year is far from current values: 1,381 euros per liter for petrol and 1,251 for diesel.
Even during the Troika era, prices did not reach current levels, as Luís Mira Amaral of Nascer do SOL reminds us. “During the Troika era, the price of oil was even higher and fuel prices were lower than today, which is a completely outrageous situation. After all, Passos Coelho and the troika were responsible for everything, but they had a lower price, even though the price of oil was much higher than it is today”.
It is recalled that the Energy Sector Regulatory Authority (ERSE) indicated that in April, the price of a barrel of oil had fallen compared to the previous month. But, on the other hand, the average sale price of petrol and diesel to the public increased during the same month. But he gave a rationale: the change from gasoline was driven “by the biofuel incorporation and pricing and freight components”, whereas, in the case of diesel, the biofuel incorporation components, as well as “marketing costs and margin” weighed.