The consumer association CLCV on Wednesday accused fuel distributors of having earned "explosive gross margins" on gasoline and oil over the past four months, judging that prices at the pump "must decrease by 10 cents" per liter.

"Large retailers and oil groups keep saying that they are committed to purchasing power, it is time for this to be translated into action. The CLCV will not hesitate to refer the matter to the competent authorities if gross margins do not return to normal by the beginning of the summer, "warns Consommation Logement Cadre de Vie (CLCV) in a press release.

Based on the "annual averages" for 2018-2021 of the federation of petroleum industries, CLCV indicates that "the gross margin transport distribution" - the difference between the price excluding taxes of fuel and the price at the exit of the refinery - is generally around 15 cents per liter".

A margin that reaches "an all-time record"

In 2022, this gross margin "fell to very low levels because distributors chose not to pass on the entirety of the very strong increase in crude oil prices following the Ukrainian crisis," recalls the CLCV, stressing that this gross margin "has even been negative in some months". But "since the beginning of 2023, this margin is at an all-time high exceeding 25 cents per litre," she adds.

"It is clear that distributors have been taking very high margins for 4 months to make up for their losses in the second half of 2022. This catch-up could be understood provided that it was assumed in a transparent way. At the European level, fuel prices excluding tax are falling except in France! ", deplores the CLCV.

The State asks for a gesture from distributors, Leclerc fulminates

Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher on Tuesday reiterated her calls to distributors for fuel prices to "fall faster", and reflect "as closely as possible" the decline in international oil prices. Crude oil prices have been hovering since early May around 70-75 dollars per barrel, returning to levels that had not been reached since the beginning of the war in Ukraine in February 2022.

Faced with these calls, Michel Edouard-Leclerc considered "inflated" to point to the responsibility of distributors rather than TotalEnergies, which reaps "billions in profits". "If there must be economic actors to lower the price of fuel, it is first of all the one who makes the fuel market," said the president of the strategic committee of the E.Leclerc centers on BFM TV.

"The margins secreted by Total last year are at least as high as the year before, the public authorities had asked last year to make rebates and no one was offended that Total only returns half a billion to French consumers through its own network," argued the leader.

  • Economy
  • Fuels
  • Petroleum