Népszava has learned from fuel price-tracking website holtankoljak.hu that around 100 gas stations nationwide have started to limit the amount of fuel they are willing to sell to a single customer per visit. Generally they are restricted to purchasing just 5-10 liters (1.32-2.64 US gallons) of fuel, which is often just enough to make it to the next filling station.
The limit imposed by retailers on gas consumers is due to the government’s decision to extend the price cap on regular gasoline and diesel oil at 480 Ft. (US $1.53) for another three months. The policy was introduced on November 15 and expected to end three months later, on February 15.
Gas station operators say the restriction on quantity is necessary because they are selling their product at a loss, meaning that the more consumers buy, the more they lose.
Several filling stations have posted notices advising customers to get their gas from state-owned oil and gas company Mol instead. Since Mol is passing on the increases in world crude oil prices in its wholesale price, retail gas stations have to purchase fuel at increasingly higher prices. And as they cannot sell it at any higher price, they are the ones bearing the financial burden of higher fuel prices.
Industry analysts say this mainly affects smaller gas stations, and could lead to mass closures. However, the government has not taken note of their early warnings.
While filling stations cannot sell fuel above a certain price, they are free to limit the amount they sell at the pump. There is even one station that is only able to sell 60 liters a day, which can run out in a matter of minutes.
Ever since the price cap on fuel was announced in Hungary, “gas tourists” from Slovakia, which has substantially higher gas prices, have been coming across the border to fill up their tanks. [Magyar Hang]