Economy

The price of petrol and diesel is rising, due to the Houthis

Filling up becomes a luxury again. The price of petrol has exceeded the threshold of 2.5 euros per liter in some distributors. Today, compared to January 1st, you spend 5 euros more. Price increases that do not add up, given that the cost of raw materials has not increased. Speculation? And the risk around the corner is an inflationary spiral.

In six weeks the average price of unleaded petrol marked +5.3%, that of diesel +6.3%. Looking at the data (referring to Friday 16 February) Assoutenti calculates that a full tank costs five euros more than at the beginning of the year. The photograph highlights striking cases, such as a pump in Taranto where petrol reaches 2.537 euros per liter and diesel 2.447 euros/litre. In the province of Benevento petrol is also sold at 2,522 euros. In Palermo, in the province, the record with a liter of green at 2.565 euros, 2.495 euros/litre for diesel. The “oddity” is that the highest price increases are on the ordinary network and not on the motorways (the most expensive is on the A21 near Piacenza with petrol at 2.499 euros per litre), where prices are traditionally higher. It feels like we're back to before summer.

What is going on? The first and immediate reason given as an explanation for the price boom in distributors is the tension on the Suez Canal and in the Red Sea. Some oil companies have started using longer routes and thus the costs and delivery times of the raw material have increased. Real. But many are talking about speculation that plays on geopolitical tensions. The longest and most expensive journeys in some cases, not always, are not enough to justify exceeding the 2.5 euros per liter at the distributors. Especially since the price of oil has experienced a rally in recent weeks, but is in slight decline. It has benefited from the weakening of the US dollar and since crude oil is traded in dollars, when the US currency falls, oil becomes cheaper. Furthermore, the latest data on crude oil inventories in the United States, which surprisingly increased, caused the price of Brent to slip. Furthermore, there are forecasts from the International Energy Agency which speak of a global demand for crude oil of less than half by 2023, also due to weak global growth.

The fact is that we have returned to prices not seen since this summer and 5 euros more than at the beginning of the year to fill up a tank is a risk. The greatest danger is the start of an inflationary spiral. A new wave of increases at the pump can trigger an increase in prices, in supermarkets and wherever goods travel on petrol and diesel vehicles arrive. Considering that in Italy 88% of goods reach the consumer this way, the inflationary spiral is a more than real risk.