Some Facebook users from the western part of the country shared a photo that showed a shocking price for gas and diesel: 11.10 RON ($2.48) per liter, which would translate into $9.3 per gallon.
With the current health situation still being a concern and war in the neighboring country putting pressure on everyone, Romanians weren’t all able to distinguish that it was actually a displaying error.
In addition, the source was a partner of a major network which means it was another private, local entity. Above all of this, rarely gas and diesel have the same price and, moreover, fuel is not that cheap. According to the image, it would mean the cost per liter is 1.11 RON ($0.25). This isn’t true even for people in oil-rich Russia, as a man already showed us how much gas costs in his belligerent country.
People started to share the image, fearing that powering a non-EV car would get too expensive, too fast. Drivers took notice, and queues have formed nationwide in a matter of hours.
After some time passed, other images from other parts of the country started, popping up showing just one particular company having higher prices. MOL, a Hungarian fuel distributor in Romania, encountered some issues and was running low on supply.
This company doesn’t have a refinery in the eastern European country, so it relies heavily on imports. It was forced by circumstances to put up pricier fuels than competitors. Its customers had to do the same and, in the end, the wrong price of 11.10 RON became a reality in one location.
National news stations got hold of what was going on, and they all showed the new, correct image from that gas station with higher prices, in that one little town. This meant the panic was only going to get worse.
This quickly became a problem that was even addressed by the Government. Officials assured everyone that the country’s reserves are full and told Romanians there’s no need to worry because supply is enough and there are no disruptions with the fuel transport.
The message was partly ignored. Drivers sat for hours for their turn to fill up while prices were still high. All of this was happening right as OPEC countries announced they’re increasing production and deliveries. WTI and Brent both dropped over 15% just today.
The plot thickensWhile major networks didn’t raise their prices immediately and kept the usual values displayed, small distributors from towns and the countryside took advantage of the situation and instantly hiked the prices to 12 RON ($2.68) from 9.5 RON (2.12$), as this video shows it. In other cases, the rates went up gradually, as you can see here.
Fortunately for those that ended up paying a lot more for fuel, there’s a chance they can get some of their money back or, at least, have the satisfaction of seeing the wrongdoers being punished for their actions, as authorities confirmed inspections will start soon to figure all this out. Those that took advantage of the disorder will most certainly be fined or worse.
While a misunderstanding spiraled out of control in Romania on Wednesday evening, almost the same thing already took place in Bulgaria. Novinite reports people feared the same price increases after a parliamentary party announcement regarding possible hikes, and they also formed queues on Tuesday.
The only country in the region that announced fuel will be more expensive from Thursday is Moldova, which is already facing an energy crisis.
Now gas and diesel costs are expected to drop. People panicked for nothing in the end. It’s a clear warning for government officials and the E.U. They need to act on solving the energy sector problems as fast as possible.