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Truckies lukewarm over Portugal’s new network of cheap fuel

This week has seen conflicting fuel-related stories. First, we heard the oil industry brought more than €4 billion into State coffers and was the “single largest source of income for the government” – with each citizen consuming an average of 145 litres of petrol per year. Then we heard that while everyday folk might be tied to paying Portugal’s OTT fuel prices, international haulage companies are most definitely not.

In fact, they have been blanking Portugal’s pumps for years, in preference to those in Spain, where fuel is cheaper.

Thus the government’s scheme which began today (Friday) for a network of stations en-route to the border where “professional fuel” is now 13 cents cheaper than anywhere else in Portugal.

Will it work? TSF radio suggests ‘not really’.

Even with the new discount, Portugal’s fuel is still more expensive than Spain’s, and truck drivers have done the maths.

Explains Daniel Polónio of Patinter – a company based in Holland that runs 1,400 trucks round Europe – the scheme is also complicated. Drivers have to pay the full whack at the pumps, and the 13 cent discount is then ploughed back within 90 days.

This will cause cash flow problems for smaller companies, he said, adding that the general policy of telling drivers to fuel up in Spain sticks, though the company has said “a bit” of refuelling can go ahead in Portugal.

It has to be “well thought out and bit by bit”, he told TSF, so that trucking companies continue to do their best in the push to force Portugal to definitively reduce its prices.

An RTP report last Tuesday focusing on how lucrative the “industry” is for the country explained that 50% of the cost of petrol, for example, is made up on taxes which go directly to the government.

One ray of sunshine, however, is that hypermarkets offering cheap fuel are now the most popular sales outlets in Portugal – superseding GALP.

The reality has meant that the country’s richest man, Américo Amorim, has now put 5% of GALP up for sale so that he can “invest in other areas and make more money”, a source has told the country’s tabloid press.

The 5% share Amorim hopes to offload should bring him in around €500 million, adds Correio da Manhã.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com