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Fuel prices. UOKiK is conducting the proceedings, sent questions to PKN Orlen, Aramco Fuels Poland, BP Europe SE

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The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) is conducting an investigation into fuel prices in Poland. “The collection and analysis of data and information flowing to us is underway,” the office’s press office informed TVN24 Biznes. UOKiK sent questions on this matter to companies dealing with wholesale trade in liquid fuels: PKN Orlen, Aramco Fuels Poland, BP Europe SE.

President of UOKiK Tomasz Chróstny at the beginning of January this year. informed about the initiation of an investigation into the evolution of fuel prices. “The investigation is underway. We are collecting and analyzing the data and information we receive,” the office’s press office informed TVN24 Biznes.

UOKiK is examining the situation on the fuel market

UOKiK informed us that questions in this matter were directed “to companies dealing in the wholesale of liquid fuels (PKN Orlen, Aramco Fuels Poland, BP Europe SE)”. “They concerned, among others, issues related to the pricing policy applied, the method of determining the wholesale price, price-forming components taken into account in the calculation of these prices, the level of wholesale prices applied by these companies in the period under review, fuel supply sources” – explained.

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The Office wants to “obtain knowledge on what factors influence the formation of their wholesale prices by these entities and whether there were any events in the last quarter of last year that could affect the higher level of these prices”. “We are also examining the relations between the main fuel wholesalers on the Polish market. We are also verifying the explanations regarding the reasons for maintaining prices in the period under review at a level above the then quotations fuel prices on European markets,” the UOKiK press office reported.

The office has not yet provided any information as to what has been established so far. “Due to the fact that the information is covered by business secrets and confidentiality of proceedings, we cannot provide more details on this subject” – we read in the reply sent to us.

These are not the only actions taken by UOKiK to help clarify the situation on the fuel market. The Office also requested data from the competition authorities of other EU Member States and the European Commission. We also verify the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU and courts in the EU Member States, as well as the decision-making practice of the European Commission in cases concerning imposing excessive prices by entities with a dominant position on the relevant market, informed the representatives of the office.

When are the first applications?

We can get to know the first conclusions from the explanatory proceedings within several weeks of its initiation. “As the President of UOKiK informed at the beginning of January, we need several weeks to conduct a thorough analysis and formulate the first conclusions from the explanatory proceedings” – reminded the press office.

We asked UOKiK whether it is possible to initiate proceedings against entities operating on the market.

The Office reminded that “assessment whether the actions of a given entrepreneur infringe the legal ban on abusing a dominant position by using excessively excessive or unfair prices requires each time to conduct a complex procedure containing an economic and cost-comparative analysis of the prices used by the entrepreneur, market specifics and factual circumstances”.

Fuel prices in Poland

Wholesale fuel prices in PKN Orlen fell sharply in the first days of the new year. As a result – despite the increase in the VAT rate on motor fuels from 8 to 23 percent. – at stations we observed petrol and diesel prices at the levels of previous weeks.

According to Urszula Cieślak, an analyst at the Reflex Brokerage House, the reduction of wholesale fuel prices “was an action that was supposed to confirm the announcement that after the New Year drivers will not feel any increases at stations, even though the rate will increase VAT“. In her opinion, it was an “image action”. – It happened at the expense of the fact that (…) we paid (earlier – ed.) more so that nothing would change now – said Cieślak.

Meanwhile, the president of the company Daniel Obajtek indicated that PKN Orlen is a multi-energy concern that stabilizes fuel prices in the country. As he pointed out, if the company did not communicate that it would try to maintain prices with the increase in VAT, panic could break out on the market.

In several cities in Poland, conferences of local government officials associated with the Movement Yes Dla Poland were held, during which declarations were made about submitting applications to the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) to check whether Orlen abused its dominant position and overstated fuel prices in the last weeks of the year.

Main photo source: Connectus Photo / Shutterstock.com

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