D.he new year will be more expensive for motorists. As early as the night of January 1, 2021, fuel prices will most likely make a sharp jump. Those who refuel in the old year can save a few euros. But even in the long term, it is unlikely that fuel will again be as cheap as it was last year.
Two effects are responsible for the expected jump in prices on the night of January 1st: VAT is returning to its old level and the new CO2 pricing also makes fuels more expensive. Together that amounts to 10 to 11 cents per liter, as both the Mineralölwirtschaftsverband (MWV) and the ADAC have calculated. How much of it ultimately arrives at the customer is decided by the competition, according to the MWV. The ADAC does not expect a big run on the gas stations before the increase. The traffic volume is currently too low for that.
Oil price increase ≠ fuel price increase
As well as the price jump at the beginning of the year can be quantified, it is difficult to predict further developments. The ADAC tends to expect an increase. “But it doesn’t have to happen that way,” says an expert from the traffic club. The development depends primarily on the oil price. How much is driven – and thus the demand for gasoline and diesel – plays a subordinate role in comparison.
The MWV emphasizes that fuel prices do not depend directly on the oil price and depend on various factors. The purchase prices for the petrol stations would arise in their own market and could well deviate from the development of oil prices.
But how will oil prices develop? Experts expect to be backed by the prospect of effective corona vaccines being rolled out quickly. Economists rarely expect a strong economic recovery. Some are already talking about a “post-corona boom”. In addition, the strong economic recovery in Asia is also likely to generate stronger demand for crude oil and a boost in world market prices.
Shortly before the end of the year, a new stimulus package in the United States had boosted oil prices. In December, the price of Brent North Sea oil, which is important in Europe, was temporarily back at more than 50 euros and thus higher than it has been since March. However, the strong recovery in autumn was preceded by a historic drop in oil prices. In April, the price of crude oil from the United States (WTI) even temporarily fell into negative territory due to the corona crisis and a price war among leading oil states.
In 2021 things could go up, especially in the second half of the year. “The economic recovery will boost energy demand,” assured commodity analyst Barbara Lambrecht from Commerzbank. In the winter months, however, Corona will continue to leave “skid marks”, is the assessment of Commerzbank expert Lambrecht.
In general, the experts were surprised by the extent of the second corona wave. Among other things, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) lowered its forecast for the first quarter of 2021 shortly before the end of the year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) also used the red pencil in its demand forecast for 2021.
“The market remains fragile”, write the IEA experts and cite the economic restrictions in the fight against the corona pandemic as a reason. However, leading funding states have already reacted to the consequences of the second corona wave. In December, the oil states combined in the Opec + group decided to increase the production volume by only 500,000 barrels per day from January and not by around two million barrels as initially targeted.
No matter how the oil price develops in 2021: Possible capers will only be reflected in the fuel prices in a subdued manner. The mineral oil tax, which amounts to 64.5 cents per liter for premium gasoline, is constant. According to the MWV, the pure costs of product procurement typically only make up a fraction of the price at the pump.