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EU ministers press for lower oil prices

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EU ministers press for lower oil prices


Their meeting has been marked by mounting political irritation with the world’s large oil companies – and now European Union finance chiefs are calling for action.

The fuel firms are making bumper profits while soaring costs are hitting households and industry hard. Now, say the ministers, enough is enough. They are urging oil-producing countries and oil companies to do more to improve supplies. That is one way of lowering prices.France has found another. Its finance minister threatened to slap a tax on oil firms to help ease the pain for those struggling. Fuel giants Total and BP quickly moved to avert the mesure but the tiny price cuts they have announced in France have left many unimpressed. “It is not a gift,” said one man as he filled his tank at the pumps. “The price of petrol has been going down. They should have done it earlier.” “Are you joking?” asked another man. “I never look anyway because it is too depressing!” With filling-up a strain on the purse strings, some are finding other solutions. German motorists are heading into Poland in search of savings. “When I convert the petrol prices here, this is about 1 euro 15 a litre,” said one German man at a Polish filling station. “In Berlin, I pay 1 euro 35.” A similar exercise takes German drivers across the Czech border. For some it is the only answer to soaring fuel bills. “I am a commuter and have to drive 100 kilometres every day,” said one German woman. “What else can I do? I am not wasting any more money in Germany.” People power action like this comes as oil companies rake in the money. In the first six months of this year, it is reported that Total made profits of around 1.5 million euros an hour.
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