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New 9 euro ticket? “Drivers should also benefit from relief”

In front of the company building of BP and the Aral subsidiary in Bochum, the small visitor car park is getting tight.

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New 9 euro ticket? “Drivers should also benefit from relief”

In front of the company building of BP and the Aral subsidiary in Bochum, the small visitor car park is getting tight. The classic combustion cars have to move closer together, because six parking spaces are painted blue and have a power cable symbol on the floor. Three electric cars are currently recharging electricity there.

The oil company wants to show the change right on its doorstep: away from oil and gas and towards electricity, hydrogen and CO₂-neutral energy sources. Time is of the essence, because in just eight years the consumption of petrol should be halved compared to today.

Today, however, everyday life at Germany's largest gas station chain is characterized by anger about the tank discount, an investigation by the Cartel Office and concerns about running out of diesel. Aral CEO Patrick Wendeler talks about this in the large meeting room - and about his move to the top of BP Europa SE.

WORLD: Mr. Wendeler, the tank discount has brought Aral a lot of attention. The ADAC accuses you of not having fully passed on the tax cut to drivers. Would you like a new edition of the discount?

Patrick Wendeler: We passed on the full tank discount to our customers right from the start. Various economic institutes have confirmed that the tax cut in Germany has been priced in.

The Federal Government's goal of reducing the costs of mobility in this way is to be welcomed. If politicians want to build on this, it would be important not to disadvantage people who have no or only limited access to local public transport.

WORLD: You think there should be no successor to the 9-euro ticket for the train without a discount for driving?

Wendeler: That would be our wish for the legislature. It was right, for example, to relieve commuters or tradespeople who depend on their car with the tank discount. All citizens should benefit from possible further reductions in mobility costs, including drivers.

Immediately after the end of the tank discount, the prices went up again. Germany has one of the highest petrol and diesel prices in Europe. According to the ADAC, they could be 20 cents lower if the gas station chains were based on the price of crude oil. Gas station prices are influenced by several factors. Crude oil is just one of them.

The product price on the world market is more decisive. Availability and logistics are major challenges at the moment. It's difficult to get petrol and diesel where we need it. One trigger for the transport problems is the low water level on the Rhine. The transport of goods by rail has only limited capacities and there is a lack of tank truck drivers for road transport. This causes increasing logistics costs.

WORLD: Does that alone explain the high prices, especially for diesel?

Wendeler: A lot comes together. Since the invasion and the sanctions, Russia has been supplying less crude oil and oil products, and we have to replace diesel fuel from other countries in particular. This happens, for example, through imports from the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp.

The loss of Russia as a supplier country involves enormous effort. In addition, some refineries are limited in their production of gasoline and diesel due to maintenance work. And finally, diesel is not only in demand in mobility, but also in industry and in the heating market.

At the same time, sales at the gas stations are picking up again, even if they are not yet at the level they were before the corona pandemic. For example, there are fewer commuters because more people are working from home. On the other hand, online trading and delivery services also add sales. All of this has an impact on prices. Overall, we expect slight growth in sales compared to the previous year.

WORLD: Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt has the refinery market examined. He wants to find out whether a lack of competition is the reason for the high product prices for petrol and diesel. Do BP and Aral earn twice from the oil - at the refinery and at the gas station?

Wendeler: I will not comment on ongoing proceedings. It is Mr Mundt's right to do so, even if it happens repeatedly. In Germany we have a mineral oil market with strong competition that works extremely well. We can serve the growing demand for energy in a very volatile and currently tight market. The prices are formed by supply and demand.

WORLD: All this will not stay that way for too long. Gasoline sales are expected to halve by 2030. Will there be a gas station death in Germany?

Wendeler: There will be changes, but there will be no large-scale gas station dying at Aral. We will turn gas stations into hubs of mobility and places to eat and drink on the go. There are also services such as parcel service.

WORLD: Aral is building the first e-charging stations at the stations. But e-cars rarely go to the gas station.

Wendeler: Interest is increasing significantly. Electricity charging is a market in the development phase. We expect around 15 million e-cars in Germany in 2030, which will be around a third of the entire car fleet. There are currently one million e-vehicles. We believe in the business model of fast electricity charging at the gas station.

We have been building our own fast charging stations at our stations for two years. Today, with more than 900 charging points, we are the largest provider of public electricity charging with an output of 350 kilowatts. By the end of the year there will be 1,500 charging points and by 2025 there will already be 5,000. Added to this are the charging stations from our partnership with Volkswagen. We will also set up fast charging stations at 180 Rewe branches and expand our cooperation with the retailer. Together we are examining an expansion to up to 600 locations.

WORLD: How much does charging at Aral cost?

Wendeler: The price models vary depending on the provider and contract for the charging card. Our own offer is 79 cents per kilowatt hour. The price is the same nationwide and unfortunately had to be adjusted recently because of the high electricity costs after we had left it unchanged for more than a year.

WORLD: Some competitors also rely on hydrogen as a drive. Your lobby group favors so-called e-fuels, synthetically produced fuels. Is that no good?

Wendeler: We expect hydrogen as a drive primarily for heavy goods traffic, but this business is not expected to grow significantly until 2025. In addition to hydrogen, e-mobility will be important for trucks. From our point of view, synthetic fuels, the e-fuels, are not yet sufficiently competitive and will primarily play a role in aviation.

WORLD: From December you will no longer be Aral boss, but CEO of BP Europa SE with responsibility for seven countries. Once asked in this position: do you think the discussed excess profit tax for energy companies like BP is correct?

Wendeler: That would not be our decision, but that of politicians. As a representative of the industry, I can only say that we need clear and understandable rules as a basis for our business. That would not be the case if the rules became arbitrary.

The BP Group also uses its profits to invest in innovations such as e-mobility, bio-energy, renewable energies, hydrogen or the petrol station shops. By 2030, this investment share will be 50 percent. We also pay dividends, for example to pension funds. That is also part of what needs to be discussed.

"Everything on shares" is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with the financial journalists from WELT. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.

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