Just when the 20-cent bonus disappears and gasoline costs moderate, the big oil companies have launched a price war. Cepsa will extend the extraordinary discount on its fuels during the first quarter of 2023 to 10 cents per liter for its customers participating in the Porque tú Vuelves loyalty program and will extend it to 12 for those who refuel with premium fuels from the Optima range.
The second largest oil company in Spain thus joins the initiative announced by Repsol last Tuesday, just a few hours after the Government approved the end of the universal discount of 20 cents. The oil company chaired by Antonio Brufau will discount 10 cents per liter for users of its Waylet loyalty application.
In between, the other two major oil companies with a presence in Spain Galp and Shell, through their brand in Spain Disa, have also announced the continuity of their discount programs for regular customers. In the case of Galp, it not only extends the bonus of 10 cents for its Mundo Galp program, but has also announced a one-time discount of 25 cents for each liter of refueling for new subscribers to that program.
On the same line, the fourth network of service stations in Spain, the DISA Group, licensee of the Shell brand, has also joined the strategy of industry leaders to attract customers through additional discounts with loyalty programs and has launched its own Mi Energía DISA application whose holders will enjoy those 10 cents discount "to reduce the impact that the withdrawal of the 20 cents per liter bonus by the Government of Spain will have," the company announced on Wednesday.
This is a commercial strategy that comes in full confrontation in the sector and that is under investigation by the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC). These big oil companies are being inspected by the regulator at the behest of complaints filed by low cost fuel brands and independent distributors accusing them of using their financial muscle to break the market.
The confrontation started last March when Repsol announced a discount on its fuels in response to the Government's call to help reduce the impact of the escalation in fuel prices.
In the decree of March 29, the Government approved the now finalized discount of 20 cents per liter and asked the big oil companies to add a minimum of five additional cents that finally translated into 10 cents. The ones he now maintains.
A financial effort that Repsol has quantified at 440 million euros and Cepsa at 135 million. While low cost brands and independent distributors accuse them of selling to them at high market prices, which cancels out their margins and prevents them from competing in the market.
While the regulator decides if this strategy is correct or not. The big ones do not wait and they continue betting on a strategy of attracting clients that they have defended from the first moment.
Now, additional element joins the fight. Fuel prices are not rising freely as in March, but have been falling for five consecutive weeks to 1,565 euros for gasoline and 1,643 for diesel. This is 12.5% and 12.3% less respectively compared to those marked in March. Reason that has served the Government to justify the withdrawal of the aid of 20 cents. Although gasoline is still 7.5% more expensive than a year ago and diesel 23.3% compared to the 1,661 euros that it cost in the first week of January 2023.