Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said late on Thursday that sanctions should not be introduced against Russian energy. In response to a question, he said such sanctions would harm many European countries as badly or even more so than Russia. The Hungarian and Dutch prime ministers and the German chancellor share the view that “it is not Europe that we want to sanction”.
He added that they trusted “common sense would prevail” at the extraordinary summit in Paris because a significant number of member states, or possibly the majority, shared the same position.
Hungarian oil and gas company MOL’s president-CEO Zsolt Hernádi said that the company was able to fulfil all fuel demands in Hungary, refineries were working without interruption, and crude oil supplies to Hungary were undisturbed.
“Abuses” of the cap must stop,
he said. Petrol stations experienced a drastic increase in demand in recent times, partly as a result of the price cap but also because of consumers abusing the system as wholesale buyers migrate to retail petrol stations, he said. On an average day, petrol stations sell around 5 million litres of fuel, while in recent days this has tripled to around 15 million litres, he added.
The refinery of Százhalombatta is operating at full capacity and MOL’s reserves are sufficient, he said.
At the same time, he said triple demand “cannot be managed by conventional means”, not because there is not enough fuel but because they are not logistically prepared. Moltrans and the subcontractors operating fuel tank lorries are operating 24 hours a day, with 280 drivers and 120 fuel tank lorries.
Still, Hungary’s fuel supplies system has not been designed for such high demand, he said. As a result, intervention is needed and consumers must be directed back to the locations where they had previously received fuel, Hernadi said. If this is not done, the situation cannot be handled using conventional methods, he added.
The newly introduced measures are needed to guarantee undisturbed fuel supply, he said. The primary task is to ensure that vehicles exceeding 7.5 tonnes return to wholesale depots. At regular petrol stations, they will only be allowed to buy fuel from high-pressure filling points with 80 litres per minute filling capacity, he added. The market price will be in effect at such filling points, he said.
Filling stations will not be allowed to serve foreign vehicles above 3.5 tonnes and Hungarian vehicles above 7.5 tonnes at regular serving points, Hernádi said.
The government has decided to reduce excise tax by 20 forints, greatly helping to restore imports and even out logistics burdens, he said.
Hernádi added that while supply and demand in the fuel market are uneven, “filling stations will apply minor restrictions for various lengths of time”. He added that this would be only a temporary measure, and once all filling stations and reserve capacities are restored, “everything will be back to normal”.
At the same time, while “abuses” continue to grow or if there is any other disturbance in European supplies, it is possible that further measures will be needed to ensure that Hungarian private individuals and businesses get undisturbed fuel supplies.
In response to a question, Gulyás said that vehicles will be differentiated not only on the basis of nationality but also based on the location of the owning company’s registration. If an Austrian business also has a Hungarian address, then it has vehicles with a Hungarian licence plate, he added.
Hernadi said the problem was not that there was some “petrol tourism” caused by private cars but that lorries were being directed to Hungary to fill up. This must be prevented, he added. The aim is to ensure that vehicles that formerly purchased fuel at large depots should not pose a burden now on petrol stations, he said.