Bulgaria’s Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) said on November 6 that it was starting a sector analysis of the petrol and diesel fuel market, its third in seven years, to ascertain whether recent price hikes were due entirely to market reasons.
The regulator said that its decision was prompted by a complaint that alleged that a particular petrol station in Veliko Turnovo was selling fuels at higher prices than other stations owned by the same retailer elsewhere in the country, as well as a number of recent media reports about fuel price increases throughout Bulgaria.
“Given the social and economic importance of fuels, as well as their direct effect on the entire Bulgarian economy, the Commission is constantly monitoring the publicly available facts and circumstances relevant to the enforcement of the Competition Protection Act,” the regulator said in a statement.
“In relation to the voiced doubts about a possible non-market reasons for this increase, the Commission finds it necessary to carry out a detailed analysis of the functioning of the competitive environment in the markets for the production and retail of auto fuels in Bulgaria,” the statement said.
This is the third time the regulator undertook such an analysis in recent years, with CPC finding evidence of wrongdoing on both previous occasions, but ultimately issuing no fines.
After the 2011 analysis, the CPC agreed to a proposal by the four largest retailers in the country, investigated for allegedly entering a price-fixing cartel, that was meant to fix competition issues.
In 2016, it opened a new cartel probe against seven petrol and diesel fuel retailers, as well as a probe against the country sole refinery. Last year, it ended the investigation without imposing any fines, only accepting the proposals put forth by fuel retailers meant to fix competition issues.
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