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Enemalta: no price fixing on diesel

Enemalta said it has no agreement with other suppliers to fix the price of diesel but insisted petrol stations may sell the fuel at a lower price.

Importation is not a joint venture and there is no agreement in place with other suppliers to keep prices the same

The denial came in the wake of a story carried by The Times last month that reported that not all petrol stations sold diesel supplied by Enemalta.

Motorists have no way of telling the difference between fuel suppliers and the price is uniform across all petrol stations even though a quarter of them supply diesel imported by a private company.

“Importation is not a joint venture and there is no agreement in place with other suppliers to keep prices the same from month to month,” an Enemalta spokeswoman said.

A representative for petrol station owners had said diesel was imported jointly between Enemalta and the private firm.

Enemalta was the dominant market player but the spokeswoman insisted it did not impose the price of diesel.

Enemalta published the “maximum retail price” every month after taking into consideration a number of factors, including international price movements and stock levels, she explained.

“Petrol stations can charge a lower price if they wanted to take that avenue,” she said.

Enemalta, she added, had a legal obligation to ensure security of stocks when buying petrol and diesel. This was also calculated in the monthly price revisions.

Talks to indicate suppliers

“Enemalta regularly reports to the Malta Resources Authority on the quantity of stocks being held on behalf of the company at all times and also provides the name and location of the terminal, installation or refinery where these stocks are being held,” the spokeswoman said.

The fuel market was liberalised in 2007 but petrol is still exclusively supplied by Enemalta and, in the diesel market, the consumer is not benefitting from price competition.

Questions sent to the private firm over its pricing policy for diesel, which is similar to that of Enemalta, were unanswered.

Both the Malta Resources Authority and the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority have so far declined to take a stand on price uniformity in the diesel market.

The authorities had referred the matter to each other when this newspaper put questions to them about the issue.

The MRA said it was in talks with petrol station owners to create visual markers helping motorists identify fuel suppliers.

Enemalta said it welcomed this development and insisted every imported fuel shipment was tested in an independent laboratory to check for compliance with legal specifications.

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