After a year with virtually daily adjustments, the petrol sold by Petrobras in its refineries was about 46% more expensive: in August last year the average value of the liter was R $ 1,360. In August this year the average reached R $ 1,987. The increase was much smaller in the posts: 18%. Were the messages comrade with customers and lost money?
Absolutely not. To start with, both adjustments were well above inflation in the period, of 4.19% by the IPCA. At the pump, petrol rose from R $ 3,768 on average in August 2017 to R $ 4,445 in August this year, according to ANP (National Agency for Oil, Natural Gas and Biofuels). It is an average value, given the whole country, but varies widely from state to state.
It may seem that the posts have lost money, but it is only one percentage point, because the values are calculated on different bases (the price in the refinery is smaller and therefore the percentage is higher). But in reais the stations even increased: the price of pumps increased by R $ 0.677, while in refineries the increase was R $ 0.627.
Increase in cents
"The stations do not lose, and if we look at the figures, there is even an indication that they have had a small margin increase," said economist Walter de Vitto, an energy analyst at Tendências Consultoria, who compared the composition of gas prices with 2017 and 2018 at the request of the UOL.
According to him, the most accurate way to make the comparison is to look at the absolute price variation, ie the increase of the cent.
In this case, the difference between what Petrobras charges most for petrol from its refineries and how much the consumer paid the most, actually at the pump, very small and even the other way around: the liter of crude fuel, in the refinery, on average R $ 0.627 more expensive, and in the posts the increase was R $ 0.677, a few cents more.
The percentage differences, Vitto said, even ended for a statistical issue, because the increase of about R $ 0.60 comes from a much lower price base at the refinery (R $ 1.36) than the R $ 3.77). "The comparison of rates is a bit illusory, because gasoline is only a part of the fuel price at the station," he said.
Other components enter the price
"Less than half the value of the petrol that we put in our car is actually the cost of the fuel," says professor of energy planning at Coppe / UFRJ (Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute for Graduate Studies and Engineering Research at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) Alexandre Szklo. "Until the bomb arrives, all taxes, operating costs, salaries and the margins of the distributors and the stations come in."
All these items, experts say, change at different speeds and help explain differences in fuel price changes at each stage.
Wanted, trade unions representing the petrol stations of the State of São Paulo (Sincopetro), the State of Rio de Janeiro (Sindestado-RJ) and the city of Rio (Sindcomb) did not react.
Fecombustíveis (national federation of fuel and lubricant trade), representing the national level, said that pricing is free and that the federation does not comment on the member's pricing policy.
In addition to the raw material itself, the increase in the margin of the stations is another boom in the final price of gasoline – a simple bill that the industry usually makes and that takes into account the difference between what the company pays for the petrol that it distributor buys and the final price it puts on the pump to the consumer.
This margin increased by 5% in August compared to the same month last year, from R $ 0.43 to R $ 0.45 per liter, on average.
"But that's a gross margin, which not only covers the profit of the retailer, but also all costs," said Vitto. "Enter factors such as cargo, maintenance and manpower, which are also in a bullish trend and can explain the increase."
In percentage terms, the margins of the stations were slightly lower: in August 2017, 11.4% of the petrol price paid by the consumer at the station was the gross margin of the site, which fell to 10.1% in August this year.
Ethanol dampens the consumer flow
With crop and upstream production, ethanol helped reduce the increase in petrol at the stations.
This is because, when it comes to the pump, gasoline must have 27% of its composition in ethanol and the biofuel has increased considerably less than from August last year to August this year, the price increase for anhydrous ethanol was 7%.
The mix is made within the distributors, who are responsible for buying the pure gas sold at refineries, thus obtaining the required dilution and resale to the stations.
"The petrol that comes out of the refinery does not have an ethanol mixture, it is pure petrol," Vitto said. "What accounts for a large part of the difference in the increases is ethanol, which has a much smaller variation and draws the average downward adjustment."
To make the comparisons, Vitto used the monthly average prices at the refineries, published by Petrobras on its website, and at the distributors and at the stations, accompanied by the ANP.
According to the economist, the use of the monthly average is a way to reduce the distortions caused by the very frequent oscillations. Companies work with inventories and it takes a few days before a new advertised price at the refinery reaches the distributor and the station.