The recent surge in petrol prices in the West has been explained away by the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia by Western countries, most notably on oil.

However not all countries import the same amount of oil from Russia.
For example France imports its oil from a diverse group of countries; mostly net oil exporters. Only around 3% was imported from Russia (about \$373M worth) in 2020.
Germany on the other hand imported almost a third of its petrol from Russia (worth about \$6.38B) in 2020.

How is it that petrol prices in France have been hit just as hard as in Germany even while taking into account the recent tax cut in germany?

Is there another cause to the rising petrol prices like global inflation or general skepticism in the market?
If so, why do politicians not adress those causes instead?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why should France be less hit than other countries in your opinion? It depends on the general price for oil, not whether you import it from Russia or wherever. Us WTI is produced in the states and it's price climbed significantly as well $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Jun 17, 2022 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


Why has France been hit so hard by rising petrol prices?

Because restrictions on Russian oil increase world oil prices as well. As you can clearly see from the data there was sharp increase in US, Canadian, OPEC etc oil (see Oilprice). The Russian oil in fact trades at a discount so countries that still import Russian oil will fare better than countries that import non Russian oil.

The reason for this is that many western countries want to diversify away from Russian oil. This means that the demand from Russian oil shifts to other oil (e.g. OPEC, USA etc). This extra demand then ceteris paribus leads to higher price of non-Russian oil and lower price of Russian oil (ceteris paribus). However, at the same Russia is such a large oil exporter that trying to cut it off causes decrease in supply of oil that makes oil generally more expensive. So what happens in the end is that both Russian and non-Russian oil gets more expensive but Russian oil only got little bit more expensive (as there is less demand for it so it trades at discount - see Statista) while other oil got much more expensive.

Next France has very high fuel taxes. Consequently, increase in petrol prices is also due to these high taxes. According to Connexicon taxes account for 60% of increase in petrol prices in France.

Is there another cause to the rising petrol prices like global inflation or general skepticism in the market?

A) Inflation is general increase in price level, inflation does not cause prices to increase, increase in prices is what inflation is. So the high petrol prices are (partially responsible for inflation). B) If there is general scepticism that would tend to lower oil price as oil is input into a production process and if people expect there will be less production they would demand less oil now. If you talk about oil market only then a negative sentiment about future oil supply can increase oil prices.

If so, why do politicians not address those causes instead?

This is a question you should ask at Politics.SE. France could decrease petrol prices dramatically by reducing taxes & importing discounted oil from Russia. However, this would lead to lower revenues for French government, and it would lead to France indirectly supporting Russia and helping it finance its illegal invasion of Ukraine. To understand why French politicians decided to not pursue this course of action you need to study french politics.


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