Russia is in danger of a gasoline crisis. The reason is that our country is becoming increasingly dependent on exports. All the efforts of the authorities to control the prices of gas stations, as well as the existing system of excises, pushes the big owners out of the gasoline business. The position of large companies is increasingly consumer. They are eager to make money wherever possible, and if the margin falls, try to get rid of unprofitable business as soon as possible.
Last weeks the main newsmaker for the domestic oil industry was LUKOIL. One of the leaders of the industry was involved in several loud informational occasions at once - to reports of the sale of 30% of the brand network of the filling stations and the Ukhta refinery, as well as to the fast start of duty-free deliveries of Russian oil to the oil refineries of Uzbekistan. The latter, as analysts expect, can lead to significant losses for the Russian budget - up to $ 30 million annually.
This shows that the Russian economy is becoming more and more raw. The production and sale of fuel are rapidly becoming uninteresting to the business, and if so, then ahead - the lack of fuel and its growth in price.
Information about the sale of a third of its refueling by LUKOIL appeared at the very end of March. Unofficially, the company that controls a fifth of the fuel retail in Russia, explained such plans "economic reasons." Experts believe in this explanation. "The reasons for the difficulties are the following: the growth of excise taxes on gasoline and the generally unfavorable economic situation, especially in the regions," explains Vadim Sysoyev, analyst of the World Markets Analysis Department at Finam. "The reasons for such intentions lie in reducing the profitability of retail business," adds Nikolai Podlevsky, head of the analytical department at Zerich Capital Management. At the same time, he said, "increasing the tax burden, as well as restraining prices in favorable periods for growth, threatens to freeze such a situation."
Indeed, according to the Independent Fuel Union, in recent years, the authorities have perceptibly "strangled" the industry, while insisting on restraining prices and increasing taxes. Only one excise on gasoline of Euro-5 class from 2015 to 2017 increased by almost 63%. As a result, the margin of fuel traders decreased from 2 thousand rubles from a ton to 8 rubles.
Interestingly, by reducing its network in the Russian Federation, LUKOIL plans to develop gas stations in other countries, where, obviously, gasoline trading is more profitable. According to the head of the analytical department of the National Energy Security Fund Alexander Pasechnik, "the company is considering the expansion of sales networks around the perimeter, for example in Turkey and a number of European countries, so this is a" flow "strategy. As for the aforementioned third of gas stations, they can still find a new owner. Already called potential buyers of assets are representatives of Qatar, China, Switzerland. At the same time, Russian companies do not show interest in the red-white gas stations. And this is also indicative.
In addition to refuels LUKOIL, according to media reports, intends to get rid of the Ukhta refinery. And to do this he can even "with a discount to the market price." Such a decision is unlikely to be surprising given that the company's net profit from 2015 to 2016 has been reduced by more than 6 times. Therefore, it is very likely that getting rid of gas stations and a plant is a link in one chain.
"The growth of problems in trade in petroleum products in Russia is due to non-market methods of regulating domestic prices for gasoline and other fuels," explains Oksana Lukicheva, commodity market analyst, Discovery Broker. "The need to keep prices at a low level in order to stabilize the social situation and the dissatisfaction of manufacturing companies by the lack of indexation of prices for inflation are expressed in limiting the production of petroleum products," the expert said.
In the red zone - the regions of the CFD, in fact, the remaining, albeit temporarily, without their own fuel production. "A particularly tense situation develops in the central regions, as the Moscow refinery is under repair. Sales of oil products to independent traders are limited, sometimes fuel in the region is simply impossible to buy, "- adds Oksana Lukicheva.
According to the observers' expectations, in the coming year the policy of "stabilizing the social situation" due to price retention will continue. "Prices for oil products in Russia in 2017 will continue to grow because of the increase in excise rates of about 5%," said the main analyst of Promsvyazbank, Ekaterina Krylova. "In the current year, within the range of 5-7%, gasoline prices are likely to rise, but inflation should also be monitored - regulators set the task for the oil industry not to go beyond its year on fuel indexation," agrees with the forecast Alexander Pasechnik. As for the beginning of 2018, then, according to the expert, "there will be an unofficial moratorium on the indexation of fuel prices, most likely for political reasons, before the presidential elections. This practice has already taken place. "
As a result, it turns out that it is more profitable for domestic oilmen to concentrate on raw materials. To change the state of things, "the state needs either to stimulate technological upgrading of the basic capacities in the industry, or to shift the tax burden to other areas of the economy, Roman Quznetsov, an analyst with QBF, believes.
For his part, Georgi Vashchenko is sure that the situation in which the export of raw materials is more profitable than processing and trading in fuel is temporary. "With further negative profitability in this segment, there will simply be a shortage of fuel. I do not exclude that such manifestations can occur in the autumn. In this case, prices will jump very quickly and fuel will appear, "the representative of Freedom Finance explains.
Herd of one cow
Experiencing difficulties in oil refining, domestic companies threaten to face problems with oil exports. Now the cost of raw materials is at $ 50 per barrel. To a certain extent, this level is kept at the expense of current production restrictions - an agreement was reached on December 10 last year by OPEC countries and some exporting countries that joined the organization. In May, another meeting will be held, dedicated to the fate of the restrictions. Most observers believe that the moratorium will not be extended. And this can bring down quotes.
According to Vadim Sysoev, "the risks that the price will go lower are extremely high, and there are a lot of factors - from the continuing growth in oil production in the US to the general market situation, which is currently calm." "Black swan" can fly at any time, "- warns the analyst of IC" FINAM ". Nikolay Podlevskikh agrees with his colleague with some reservations. "The probability of leaving prices below $ 50 I regard as high. Basically, this will be determined by the ability of OPEC to extend the agreements in force since January. But even in the event of the failure of these negotiations, prices are unlikely to go to the low of the beginning of 2016, "says the expert.
In January last year, the barrel was already reaching $ 34.73. By the way, this is close to the indicators of the collapse of the 2008 crisis, when raw materials were falling even below $ 34. Unfortunately, the domestic budget, which depends critically on the trade in natural resources, can only pray that good or at least moderately optimistic predictions will come true.
Why does fuel in Russia constantly become more expensive? As it turns out, the share of processing, the margin of traders, not to mention the cost of oil, in gasoline and diesel fuel is not the most significant. 60% of their value is held by excise and tax collections. 16% is the markup of the gas station. 13% is the mark-up of the refinery. 7% - transportation costs. And only 4% is actually the cost of oil.
At the same time, the share of excises will only increase. So, in 2017, the collection from gasoline class Euro-5 is 10.13 rubles per liter, in 2018, it will increase to 10.535 rubles. Diesel fuel, accordingly, gives the budget in 2017 6.8 rubles, in 2018, it will part with 7.072 rubles. And this is only an excise. In addition to it, the price of fuel includes value added tax, mineral extraction tax, profit taxes, property, payroll and so on.