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A recent photo of low-cost petrol station belonging to the Coloso group in Torremolinos. Ñito Salas
Low-cost fuel stations expand further across Malaga province as prices at the pump continue to rise
Motoring

Low-cost fuel stations expand further across Malaga province as prices at the pump continue to rise

Fuel prices ·

There are currently 70 unattended, automatic filling stations in operation and there are plans for many more in the pipeline

Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Tuesday, 17 October 2023, 10:09

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With 95-octane petrol costing 1.73 euros a litre on average (as of last week), and diesel costing practically the same, it is increasingly common for Malaga residents to use the so-called "low cost" automatic or unattended petrol stations.

The number of these unattended petrol stations continues to grow after a dozen openings in the last year. There are currently 70 in Malaga province, which represent 20% of the fuel supply offering, according to calculations by SUR based on data provided by the Geoportal of service stations of the Ministry for Ecological Transition; the National Association of Automatic Service Stations (Aesae) and the main operators.

The Coloso group has opened two new stations, in Marbella and Churriana, according to its owner, Antonio Velarde. The company currently has five stations in the province. "It's a difficult market, with a lot of competition," said the businessman. In his opinion, the key is to be in good areas, and Coloso is betting on the coast.

"The increase in fuel prices makes margins more complicated, but we go to the free market and give more benefit to the customer. We earn less to gain market share and be more competitive". Velarde added: "We give the customer a [competitive] price because we have just enough staff to operate, without senior management.” With their sights set on the future, Coloso is also to offer charging points for electric vehicles.

UPDATED DAILY: These are the fuel stations in Malaga province with the lowest prices...

Malaga is the Spanish mainland province (second in the country, only behind the Canary Islands) where there is a greater price difference between filling up at 'low cost' and branded petrol stations. According to a recent report by Aesae, the choice of refuelling point can mean a saving of 23 euros for an average 60-litre tank (according to September data). This is due to the scarce, although growing, competition that the big oil companies’ service stations have traditionally had, compared to the automatic stations, especially in Malaga city.

In a search carried out on 11 October by SUR on the Ministry for the Ecological Transition's Hydrocarbons Geoportal, the cheapest diesel was to be found at a Petroprix petrol station in Malaga city, at 1.475 euros per litre; the most expensive was at a Cepsa in Estepona (1.839). Therefore, the difference amounts to 0.364 euros per litre, which, applied to the average car tank capacity of 60 litres, gives a difference of 21.84 euros.

Plenoil: Two openings in 2023, and a total of nine petrol stations in Malaga

One of the sector's most dynamic operators is Plenoil, which this year has opened two petrol stations in the province – in Pizarra and Mijas – while in the coming months it expects to open its first in Malaga city. The company has nine operational centres in Malaga and 48 in Andalucía.

José Rodríguez de Arellano, CEO of the company, said that the same problems continue to exist when it comes to processing licences that have been reported for years. According to the CEO, a special plan is required in Malaga city, which is not in accordance with state regulations, causing the process to take many years. "It has taken us five years to obtain the licence for the petrol station we will be opening soon," he said.

Petroprix: Nine stations in operation, with plans for two more before the end of the year

"Malaga is one of the cities that the low cost chains like the most, and not only Petroprix, it is a place where it sells very well," said Jaime Vega de Seoane, development director of the company. He said the population and the geographical spread of the metropolitan area, from Alhaurín de la Torre to Rincón de la Victoria favours the expansion.

The company currently has nine stations throughout the province, several of them in Malaga city, while it is processing permits for another five (at least two of which are expected to be operational before the end of the year).

The manager explained that even traditional petrol stations are migrating their business to the 'low cost' model, due to high fuel prices. Jaime Vega de Seoane said that 95% of customers are initially attracted to the automatic stations because they are cheaper, but many also like the simplicity of refuelling compared to traditional petrol stations.

Ballenoil: Ten stations in operation

Another of the big operators of automatic petrol stations, Ballenoil, currently has ten stations in operation, the latest of which was opened before the summer in Torremolinos. They are planning to open seven more in Malaga city and its metropolitan area.

"The province is fundamental for Ballenoil's expansion. The good reception we are having in the service stations in operation has led us to reinforce our presence in this region," said a company spokesperson. "We will continue to grow in Malaga city and the towns within its radius of influence because we believe that this is the best way to help drivers save money when filling up their tanks.”

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