Hungary’s fuel situation ‘critical’, imports needed: Gas group MOL

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Hungary’s fuel supply situation is “critical” as demand has soared and panic buying has led to shortages, oil and gas group MOL said on Tuesday, adding the only solution was to create the conditions for increased imports.

Foreign players have cut fuel shipments to Hungary since the government capped the price of petrol and diesel at 480 forints ($1.22) per litre a year ago.

“MOL remains committed to maintaining security of supply from our own products, however securing full market supply cannot be ensured without the ramp-up of product imports in the current environment,” the company said in a statement.

MOL’s managing director Gyorgy Bacsa later added in an emailed statement that MOL was trying to import more products from its refinery in Slovakia but “has reached the limits of its logistical capacities.”

The company said on Monday it faced some shortfall of fuel stocks across almost its entire network of filling stations over the weekend as many people started panic buying and stockpiling. The fuel price cap currently applies to drivers of privately-owned vehicles, farm vehicles and taxis and is set to expire at the end of December.

The government has said it will decide whether to extend the measure based on information from MOL on whether the company is able to ensure supply. The government did not reply to Reuters questions on Monday and Tuesday.

MOL also said it had started ramping up crude oil processing at its Danube refinery and expected to reach full capacity utilisation in a couple of weeks. Due to maintenance work, the refinery has been operating at50-55% capacity, affecting all of MOL’s products. ($1 = 394.2500 forints)