Croatia's second-largest fuel retailer Petrol on Wednesday said it would close its stations in the country for one hour to protest over the government's fuel price cap, which it said was causing it great damage.
"We apologise to our loyal buyers because we shall say "No" to interventionist measures for fuel prices," Petrol said on its website. "They endanger reliable and stable supplies of fuel."
Croatia capped fuel prices in February to help ease a sharp rise in the cost of living for its citizens after Russia's invasion of Ukraine and kept the cap throughout 2022 as inflation peaked. It lowered the cap further in December even though the price of oil on the world market had fallen.
Petrol operates about 200 gas stations in Croatia, where it accounts for 23% of the market.
Fuel Price Caps
Slovenia, where Petrol is the largest fuel retailer, has also capped fuel prices. The company said on Tuesday that it suffered a loss of €108.9 million from Jan.-Sept. in Slovenia while the loss in Croatia stood at €34.6 million in the same period.
Petrol added that the Slovenian government failed to refund it for the price cap as promised, and warned that in January it would ask for a settlement, and if that failed it would file a lawsuit against authorities.
It would take the same action in Croatia unless the government stops intervening in the price, it said.
Croatian Economy Minister Davor Filipovic said he was "unpleasantly surprised" by Petrol's closure of the gas stations but the government would work to ease disruption.
"In this crisis, everybody needs to carry their part of the burden," Filipovic told reporters after meeting Petrol officials on Wednesday.
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