Intermarché, TotalEnergies, Système U: most fuel distributors have announced in recent hours efforts on their margins to drive down the prices of gasoline and diesel. We did not have to wait for the meeting organized this Tuesday by the Minister of Energy Transition for the first announcements to come in. Agnès Pannier-Runacher publicly asked this weekend for a “solidarity effort” from the sector on pump prices, which already exceed two euros per liter in certain stations.

The distributors’ measures were widely welcomed by the government. “I thank Total and Intermarché for taking their responsibilities, and I expect other fuel suppliers and distributors” to follow this example, the minister declared on RMC on Tuesday morning. System U followed suit a few minutes later.

The oil company TotalEnergies, which manages a third of the service stations in France, has formalized the continuation of its price freeze at 1.99 euros per liter “beyond the end of 2023, as long as prices remain high”. As for Intermarché and Système U, their managers announced operations to sell fuel “at cost” – the last weekends of each month at the service stations of Intermarché stores.

These margin reductions, on the other hand, are “totally impossible” in independent service stations, warned a representative of the sector interviewed on France Info. “We have to operate the service stations, pay the electricity bills, the maintenance of equipment, so the sale of fuel to service stations without a margin is not possible, it does not exist,” he said. he continued, insisting that an independent service station “cannot sell without a margin”.

This “effort” is requested by the government while the bill is increasingly heavy for French motorists. Prices at the pump are continuing their very spectacular surge that began at the beginning of July, according to Fig Data calculations, carried out using public data from the Ministry of Energy Transition. Bad news that comes at the time of major back-to-school expenses. And above all, it spares no fuel.

The margins of distributors and refiners that the government hopes to see reduced, however, represent only a few cents in the price of a liter of gasoline. “The price difference during our cost price operations is not very large for the consumer, one or two cents at most,” declared Dominique Schelcher, CEO of Système U, on France Inter. “At a time when purchase prices are increasing, I add taxes and I myself will find myself more than 2 euros per liter,” he added.

Taxation accounts for more than 60% of the price of fuel in France. This is why more and more stakeholders are imploring public authorities to initiate a rebate on fuel by lowering the taxes that apply to this product. But the government rejects this. “The rebate is 12 billion euros for 10 cents of savings. It’s a blind and very costly measure for a not very convincing result,” explained Olivier Véran, government spokesperson, on CNews Tuesday morning.