The weekly surveys of the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) show that gas stations have been gradually reducing the prices of gasoline and ethanol for more than a month. The exception is diesel, which remains almost stable.
Product reduction since the week of June 25 was only 1.9%, which means R$ 0.15 a liter in nominal terms. Diesel went from R$7.57 to R$7.42 in this interval.
Meanwhile, gasoline went from R$7.39 to R$5.74, a cut of 22.3%. Ethanol has been falling for 13 weeks and went from R$5.53 to R$4.21 a liter, also a 23.8% decline.
- Gasoline price drops for 5th week and lowest in 1 year
- Petrol from Petrobras becomes cheaper in refineries this Friday
And one more surprise confused the consumer: Petrobras announced two reductions in the price of gasoline for refineries this month. On both occasions, diesel was left out of the readjustments.
experts heard by g1 explain that diesel has particularities in relation to others and that they prevent a price reduction — both in the country and abroad. These are factors that range from the habit of fuel consumption to the supply complications due to the war in Ukraine.
Initially, consumers expected some relief from diesel prices in the country as market values generated less pressure on Petrobras’ pricing policy.
The state-owned import parity price (PPI) is the basis for gasoline and diesel prices at refineries. The PPI is guided by fluctuations in the price of a barrel of oil on the international market and by the exchange rate.
But there is the value of diesel itself on the international market, which has risen by almost 55% since the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February. Gasoline also exploded in price, but returned to levels closer to the pre-conflict period, up 9%. The data are from the Oil Price website.
Pipes from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline facility in Lubmin, Germany — Photo: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
According to Pedro Rodrigues, a partner at the Brazilian Infrastructure Center (CBIE), the phenomenon occurs because there was a shortage of diesel in the international market with the intensification of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
In the most recent episode, the Russians further limited the supply of natural gas to Europe via the Nord Stream pipeline. Natural gas is an important source of energy for European homes and industries and around 40% of the gas consumed in the European Union comes from Russia. The natural, short-term substitute is diesel.
“The fear of Russia makes Europe stockpile diesel, which raises the price all over the world. This made the price of diesel take off from the barrel of oil and have great volatility”, says Rodrigues.
It is this variation in prices that makes Petrobras “play stall” with diesel. The fluctuation of the price in the international market can make a hasty decrease turn into an increase after a short time.
“The volume consumed in Brazil is very large, so the company cannot run a risk of shortages”, says the specialist, who believes that the company is right to leave a “safety margin” for the fuel.
Petrobras: diesel price may rise even further until the end of the year due to shortages in the international market
On Friday (29), Petrobras itself indicated that the chances are high that the price of diesel will remain high because of a “mismatch” between supply and demand.
On the demand side, the trend is for an increase in fuel demand in the coming months due to the winter in the northern hemisphere. In Brazil, the search for diesel should also be greater with the flow of the grain harvest, made mostly by road transport.
As for the offer, Petrobras expects the effects of the hurricane season in the United States, which could compromise production and encourage increases in diesel inventories. But experts heard by the g1 They also factor in a possible extension of Russian power cuts at a critical moment.
Economist Cláudio Frischtak, founding partner of consultancy Inter B, recalls that the situation can get complicated because diesel consumption is difficult to replace. In Europe, for example, in addition to freight transport, there is a dependence on diesel to fuel passenger cars and, eventually, to heat homes.
“Diesel has a much more inelastic demand, while refineries are having problems with increasing production. Brazil imports around 25% of diesel and ends up suffering a lot from the international market”, says Frischtak.
Miriam Leitão comments on the latest Petrobras decisions
Before expecting a relief in fuel prices on the international market, the government of Jair Bolsonaro prepared measures to lower them by force.
In June, the president sanctioned a project aimed at directly hitting the price of fuel, which limits ICMS on items such as diesel, gasoline, electricity, communications and public transport to a range that should not exceed 17% to 18%, depending on the locality.
In the case of gasoline, before the limitation, the rate in some states exceeded 30%, according to Fecombustíveis. But the tax levied on diesel was always lower and most states already had a charge lower than the new limit established by the project.
With no effect of the tax cut, the only reinforcements left to diesel users were the aid for categories, made possible by the PEC Kamikaze. Among the measures, there is a monthly voucher of R$ 1 thousand to support truck drivers.
“The impact [da redução do ICMS] ended up being higher in gasoline. With the cost of diesel increasing, even aid for truck drivers ends up being innocuous”, says Carla Beni, economist and professor at FGV.