ECONOMY

Monitoring fuel cheats

Gasoline prices are rising further, as nowhere in Greece can anyone find a liter of unleaded gasoline costing less than 1 euro, according to market observers. The 2-cent hike due to the harmonization of of tax rates with those of the EU and the rising course of oil prices has pushed fuel rates in Greece to unprecedented heights. The problem is spreading to the countryside now, due to the summer holidays, where competition is always more limited and profiteering trends are greater. Tricks in the tank Consumers must also deal with fraudsters, as drivers often pay for more gasoline than they actually add to their car’s tank: Seven out of 10 gasoline stations cheat in filling car tanks, by between 2.3 percent and 14.1 percent, according to a survey conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), in association with Shell Hellas. The NTUA survey was based on 425 fuel samples taken from 392 stations, mainly in Attica, from February to June. The survey, presented last week, recorded the volume of the fuel delivered and its weight, with the latter proving more accurate. NTUA suggests that the method of measuring the weight of the fuel, instead of the conventional measuring of volume, could be used both for monitoring the proper operation and precision of fuel pumps in gasoline stations and for random checks in stations to establish the actual quantity of fuel sold to consumers. The president of the gasoline station association, Dimitris Makrivelios, disputed the credibility of that survey. He expressed to Kathimerini his reservations about the funding of the survey by Shell, but admitted that «the reliability of the fuel trading system is suffering from the refinery all the way to the pump.» Internationally, fuel measuring is based on volume and not weight, but temperature and the specific weight of the fuel are also factored in. Makrivelios suggested that gasoline stations take these factors into account when receiving fuel from companies, although this requires installing a special appliance on pumps, rendering the measuring more precise and reliable. Makrivelios estimates that this credibility deficit can only be eliminated by state measures: The government should force gasoline stations to upgrade their pumps, as Greece is the only EU country that does not have this method of measuring fuel.