One discount, sometimes two! Motorists had lost the habit of seeing fuel prices drop so sharply. In addition to the State rebate of 28.25 cents including VAT, a Total Energies “purchasing power” aid of 20 cents was added. How to compete
Iwas almost on reserve. I received a call to tell me that the gasoline had been low since this morning, I did not hesitate.” Like this mother, many motorists drove yesterday in the direction of the stations which displayed the lowest prices. At the top of the list are the points of sale of the Total Energies group which have scored a double blow.
To the fuel discount reassessed by the government since yesterday was added a “purchasing power” discount of 20 cents, granted by the Total Energies group at the national level. In just 24 hours, the price per liter of unleaded went from €1.88/l to €1.52/l and from €2.09/l to €1.72/ for diesel. Explanations? Initially €17 cents including tax for Corsica, the government rebate rose to 28.25 cents including tax on Thursday, which represents an effective drop of 11.25 cents. In the 50 Total stations that have joined the national oil tanker system, the reduction generated should thus be 31.25 cents.
“What is certain is that it is nice to fall back below the 2 euro mark”, confides Brunia who, with her husband, has advanced to the most competitive station. Behind her, the line of cars lengthens on both sides and motorists take the opportunity to refuel. “I had lost the habit. I was doing gasoline for 40 euros each time, no more, but there I didn’t ask myself any questions”, confides this forty-something from Bastia. “Since this morning, it does not stop”, confides an employee of a petrol station located along the RT 10 at the exit of Bastia. “ It’s as if users fear that prices will go up.”
A maximum discount of 48.25 cents
To the satisfaction of paying for gasoline at a price that had not fallen so low for more than a year – exactly unleaded had not fallen below the 1.60 €/l mark since March 2021 -, a question remains. How did the announced government discount of 30 cents per liter purchased increase to 28.25 cents on the island? Why in Corsica no motorist will be able to claim the maximum rebate of 50 cents available in mainland France? A difference based on a calculation ultimately simple. The gross rebate generated is calculated according to the VAT that applies in each territory. On the island, it is 13% against 20% on the Continent. The Corsican user loses a few euro cents per liter at the pump. “The reasoning is that by paying more for fuel, we should have the largest discounts. The problem therefore remains the gap which is not economic but structural. It is linked to competition which on the island is not exercised, because this lower VAT – precisely explained by the additional cost of insularity – should be passed on to the year on the price of fuels.“, underlines Frédéric Poletti, initiator and spokesperson for the collective Act against the high cost of fuel in Corsica which, as of yesterday morning, closely followed the fluctuation of prices on the island. An exercise not necessarily obvious during the first hours of the morning. In question: a digital traffic jam or more exactly a saturation of the network on the ministerial referencing site which forces distributors to update their prices. After reading the data at the end of the afternoon, it is clear that the n all gas stations had not yet updated theirs.
The game of competition
On the Bastia side, on the same road axis, three prices and two differences. With differences of around 36 cents depending on the distributors. “The drop in the price of gasoline is not yet applied to all island stations”, confirms Gilbert Ferrandi, head of the Ferrandi Esso group. “By Saturday, the price will definitely come down.” A period of time that would allow the distributor to sell off its stock of hydrocarbons purchased at the price before the discount.
To compete with the additional rebates granted by the French oil company TotalEnergies, the Esso network knows that it will have to offer more. “We are waiting for answers from the national Esso group to find out if we will be accompanied. If this is not the case, there is a risk of social damage. Many points of sale, especially in rural areas, will not be able to compete for four months and risk closing.”
Indeed, the purchasing power operation – second version, set up by Total – provides for progressive discounts on the same dynamic as that of the State. We remind you that the government discount will increase to 9.42 cents on 1er November before dying out at the end of December. A support measure correlated to the purchasing power law passed this summer by parliament.
On the side of Total, another strategy was favored, which made it possible to change prices rapidly. As of yesterday morning, a stock certificate was requested from the network distributor. “We are going to apply the aid also to the stock, which is not the case with the State rebate”, says Marie Noëlle Leonelli, CEO of Total Corse. At the same time, around ten loss-making stations in the group could claim financial compensation according to the decree of August 22. The files are not yet under review. On the two cumulative purchasing power operations, the group thus mobilized an envelope of 5.8 million euros.
What about Vito stations? By going to the government site, we see that some of the group’s stations display a price close to, or even similar to, that of competitors. This is the case in certain districts of Bastia or even in Corte where the race between Total and Vito is played out to within 0.1 cents. Did the Vito group in turn choose to double the silence? Contacted, management has so far not responded to our requests. To be continued then. For the collective Act against the high cost of fuel in Corsica, if “this price represents a breath of fresh air, it does not correct the deeper gap. The fuel problem in Corsica is not settled”.
The solution to drive at a fair price, remains according to the collective, the principle of regulation. A subject far from closed.