Oil marketing margin defended

Oil marketing margin defended

The Energy Ministry has defended its oil marketing margin, which is partly blamed for keeping fuel prices high, saying the situation is under control despite two former finance ministers urging the government to do better in shoring up the depleted Oil Fuel Fund.

The oil refinery margin has dipped since early last month while the marketing margin has increased, prompting criticism the latter has been a key factor driving up fuel prices.

Ministry spokesman Sompob Pattana-ariyangkul said it may be misleading to look at the marketing margin on a daily basis as fuel prices fluctuate every day in accordance with global oil prices.

He said comparisons should be made on a monthly basis, which should reveal that the marketing margin is well within the government's regulatory range.

The average marketing margin of a petrol station worked out to 2.17 baht a litre from July 1-6, close to the yearly average of 2.14 baht in 2021. The government's regulatory range is 2 baht a litre, plus or minus 40 satang.

The marketing margin refers to income the station operator makes from selling fuel after deducting costs such as transport, service charges, utility bills, staff salaries and land lease. The margin varies from station to station, Mr Sompob said.

Meanwhile, Kla Party leader Korn Chatikavanij accused Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow of slacking on the job and called on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to give the minister a nudge.

Mr Korn said on his Facebook that despite a lack of progress in talks between the minister and oil refineries over the government's request they send some profits to the fund, the minister had let oil firms increase marketing margins for benzine.

According to Mr Korn, based the July 5 data, the marketing margin for Gasohol 95 fuel was at 3.42 baht per litre and that for Gasohol 91 fuel stood at 3.62 baht per litre.

"The marketing margin for fuels shouldn't exceed two baht a litre. And what's more interesting is that after June 10 [when the party raised the issue] fuel prices from oil refineries decreased but pump prices remain unchanged.

"The people should have had cheaper gasoline, but instead the oil firms have pocketed the profits. And PTT Plc is the market's biggest player. How can the energy minister let this happen?" he asked.

Another former finance minister, Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala, urged the Finance Ministry to ensure that any imposition of a windfall tax on oil refineries cover the entire period until prices return to normal levels.

Mr Thirachai wrote on his Facebook page that refining capacity shortages in the US and Europe were likely to worsen, raising refinery margins overseas.

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