Exporting gasoline has become more profitable than selling it domestically, Kommersant reports this morning. According to the newspaper’s calculations, the premium on domestic sales has turned negative at around the USD 50/ton level. It also reported that two companies had already started to export small volumes of gasoline last week, which usually leads to a significant increase in gasoline prices. According to Kommersant, on 12 March the government discussed the possibility of freezing fuel prices until May, with the issue to be discussed further at the meeting on 21 March.
According to our calculations, the internal market premium was reduced to minus USD 25/ton, which is not as significant as Kommersant’s calculation but still indicates significant pressure on domestic gasoline prices. We expect this to motivate oil companies to re-launch gasoline exports in the near future, which would lead to a significant shortage of gasoline on the domestic market. We believe that there is no point in the Russian government trying to prevent the growth in gasoline prices and as we think that they are set to grow as part of the international trend.