In the light of the heated energy policy discussions, there is little point in looking far into the future. The following text only offers a brief summary of what the industry might be facing during the coming months.

When all is said and done, the uncertainties have increased steadily over the course of the current year. Contributing factors are the effects of Corona, market forecasts for 2021, the still uncertain outcome of some energy policy discussions surrounding the EU Green Deal, the revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), and the transposition of the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) into national law. Amidst these developments, however, manufacturers of tankers, software companies in the industry as well as suppliers of equipment and fittings are expected to plan their business development for the coming year. An undeniably difficult task that the companies, by their own admission, can only tackle with “cautious optimism”.

The second Corona wave, which can no longer be ignored, has done nothing to improve the situation. As early as in July – i.e. before the current infection situation – the credit insurer Euler Hermes assumed that in 2021 corporate insolvencies would increase by 12 percent versus 2019.

In the mineral oil trade, uncertainty prevails as to what this first half of 2021 may bring. Corona is less of a determining factor as the introduction of CO2 pricing via the Fuel Emissions Trading Act – BEHG for short – and the VAT rate, which is being raised again. This alone increases the price of a 3,000 litre batch of heating oil by around 240 Euros. At the same time, prices at the service station and on the natural gas market are indeed also increasing. However, since final customers cannot stockpile in advance, this will not affect demand in the same way as in the heating oil trade.

If – a trend currently reinforced by the second Corona wave – people prefer to travel by car rather than on public transport and increasingly order online instead of actually going shopping themselves, this could even increase fuel consumption. A circumstance that counteracts the negative impact on the fuel business as a result of poor economic development and – also thanks to the home office – fewer kilometres driven.

Rising sales figures are forecast in the wood pellet field too, which automatically increases the need for transport.

Lubricant sales, on the other hand, are unlikely to return to last year’s level until the industry emerges from its Corona low.
When all is said and done, a glance in the 2021 crystal ball for fuel oil and mineral oil logistics and for the companies operating in this field is more than uncertain.

What the distant future holds, which drive systems and fuels will be established, whether we will witness a rise in hydrogen, an increasing proportion of CO2-free synthetic fuels – the so-called e-fuels – or whether the focus will remain on the electrification of transport remains to be seen. A number of crucial political choices are likely to be made in this respect during the coming year.

One thing is clear however: With more than five million oil heating systems in existing buildings and a total of 58 million vehicles on German roads, the majority of which have a combustion engine on board, the demand for liquid energy sources and hence for the required logistics will not simply disappear in the coming years. Because of that, the glass is rather half full than half empty.

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