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GPS in fuel tanks

23 January 2013 / 16:01:37  GRReporter
2624 reads

Victoria Mindova

After years of fighting with different sectors, the government has finally decided to introduce a system for measuring the volume of fuel at the inlet and outlet of tanks and warehouses of petrol, diesel and other liquid fuels. The first step is the installation of control systems at petrol stations, which are the last link in the chain. In parallel, the Ministry of Economy has decided to install GPS devices to control the movement of tanks and to measure electronically the amount of fuel they transport.  Petrol station owners welcome the initiative, as they have been insisting on the imposition of control measures on all stages of fuel transportation and trade for years.

The black fuel market in Greece costs the treasury hundreds of millions of euro annually. The lack of control over the movement of fuel has allowed illegal warehouses, ghost tanks and petrol of unknown origin to take over the country. As a result, unfair competition has been flourishing in the Balkan country, further burdening the pockets of ordinary consumers.
 
According to the latest plan of the Greek government, all petrol stations in the country are obliged to install by March 2014 systems measuring the volume of fuel at the inlet and at the outlet. This plan has remained unimplemented for more than three years, but Antonis Samaras’ government is determined to introduce the control measure. According to the set timeframe, all petrol stations in Athens and Thessaloniki will have to install such systems by March 2013. They will have to start operating in other cities of Greece by September this year and by March 2014 in all provinces and on all islands.
  
The total number of petrol stations in the two largest cities in the country is around 1,400. Of these, only 40% have installed systems to control the fuel at the inlet and the outlet. The value of such a system is estimated at between 10 and 12 thousand euro and it can exceed 15 thousand euro for larger stations. So far, the bigger players in the market have equipped their stations as required by law. Smaller petrol stations are experiencing serious financial problems and say they cannot afford additional investments in times of crisis and collapse of the market.

The Ministry of Economy in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance is trying to find a way to help the petrol stations owners to invest in the installation of control systems.

Currently the treasury has no money to subsidize such an initiative, and the EU funds from the National Strategic Development Framework cannot be used for the implementation of such measures, which are binding. One option that is currently on the table of negotiations is the introduction of temporary tax concessions for petrol station owners introducing the systems.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Trade, the reduction of illicit fuel trade will offset the loss to the treasury due to the tax concessions. Experts from the Ministry say that the improved accountability and tighter supervision will reduce the outflow of funds from trading on the black market and restore the balance of the revenue.

George Asmatoglou, chairman of the union of liquid fuel dealers and petrol stations owners in the region of Attica is adamant that the plan of the government is incomplete and half-baked. "If they are going to install GPS devices, they must be installed in the tanks that transport the fuel from the refinery to the warehouses of the wholesale companies. This process creates the most serious problems in the sector," states the trader for GRReporter. At the same time, the ministry should describe and make maps of fuel storage facilities and warehouses. It should describe them and divide them by characteristics like capacity and then, it should install in them the systems measuring the amount of fuel at the inlet and the outlet.

As for the plan of installing measuring control systems on petrol pumps, Asmatoglou agrees with it, but believes that the government's plans are not realistic. "There is no way for the petrol stations in the two largest counties in Greece to make the requested change in two months." According to him, there are about 1,200 petrol stations in the region of Athens and about 800 in Thessaloniki. The expert states that the ones that have been equipped with such a system may be even more than 40%, but they are obsolete and he claims that they do not meet the new standards. "You see that it is impossible for the representatives of the companies that import and install the specific systems to serve 2,000 petrol stations in two months," insists Asmatoglou.

Tags: EconomyMarketsFuelSmugglingGreece
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