The sales volume in Greece’s crude oil products market posted a significant 19 percent annual decline in the first six months of the year, according to a survey by Statbank. This development is attributed primarily to the repeat increases in the special consumption tax on fuel and value-added tax. The redistribution of power in the domestic market after the acquisition of BP and Shell gasoline stations by Hellenic Petroleum (HELPE) and Motor Oil respectively means that the fuel-trading companies that are not associated with refineries are finding themselves in a more difficult position. The total net earnings of the two refining companies in Greece, HELPE and Motor Oil, came to 350 million euros in 2009, compared with losses of 42.7 million euros in 2008. Their profit margin stood at 5.7 percent, while that of the trading companies was just 0.68 percent.