motorists who refuel in the South of Germany, petrol, currently have to pay much more than in Hamburg or Schwerin: In Bavaria, the Liter cost of the house in December, an average of up to 15 cents more than in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In southern Germany, the tank is currently plain expensive. Blame it on low water levels of the Rhine, and, ultimately, the drought that has been going on since the spring in many Parts of Germany.

The price of gasoline-Equator

source: as of November 19. December 2018 © Zeit ONLINE

came Because of the weather, it is mainly on the Rhine and other rivers of Germany stands this year at historically low Levels, large tankers not longer allowed to drive on the Rhine in the meantime. And still, some ships can not be loaded completely – the cruise is important for fuel transport. A large part of the German tank farms and refineries located along the Rhine history. This use of the river Rhine, in order to transport 25 to 50 percent of their gasoline with ships, estimates Alexander von Gersdorff from the petroleum industry Association.

Already in November it was, therefore, especially in the South of Germany to supply shortages, some gas stations were sold out completely. As a result of the bottlenecks in the inland waterway, the transport costs increased on the Rhine route in the meantime to six times. The North, because he is less dependent on the navigation of the Rhine, of the price increase rather spared. The logistics of actually makes up only a small part of the petrol price. Due to the difficult conditions for the boat trip, the scarce gasoline offer had a and the higher transport costs, but a noticeable effect on the prices. Meanwhile, the water levels of the rivers are on the rise again. Until the situation normalizes, it will take probably until the beginning of the new year.

Since 2013, all German petrol stations report their prices in real time to a market transparency unit of the Federal cartel office. On the page the prices of all of the approximately 15,000 tank were collected starting in June 2014. TIME ONLINE has analyzed the data: gasoline prices are changing constantly, and fluctuations are normal. Only there are usually no geographic price differences, such as in this Winter, show the records.

gas stations change the prices up to 15 Times a day

cover at Least the surface of price fluctuations, however. In General, this is mainly due to Changes in the price of crude oil, says Sascha Wilhelm. The researchers at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, the dynamics of prices of gasoline. Not to be under the price were to appreciate, but he fights under the tank. According to Wilhelm up to 15 Times can be adjusted on the day the prices at the same gas station it could lead to price fluctuations of more than ten cents.

the UPS and downs of gasoline prices, the researchers from the game describes a theoretical point of view. Therefore, the gas station operators to offer each other by small amounts. The prices are so low that a gas station makes little profit, to increase the price suddenly in the hope of the other. Through this constant Over – and under-provide to the margin of the tank would quadruple in the course of a single day. Since all prices must be reported to the Federal cartel office, have intensified these competitive dynamics even more: Even more often the prices would be changed, some providers react automatically to the offer of your competition.

this Winter, however, the tighter supply have changed to petrol competition: The petrol stations in the South of Germany offer much less, no one wants to waste his petrol, as long as it is not certain whether the next day will be.

gasoline prices fluctuate normally universally

The most expensive month in the data was the July 2014, the cheapest of the February 2016.

source: as of November 19. December 2018 © Zeit ONLINE

Particularly high prices, the tank waiting in the night. About 60 percent of the tank are closed then. He who keeps his open, determined by the price of gasoline. Also for the price increases during the day many of the gas stations at fixed times, for example, point twelve o’clock, so that the competition noticed the Change immediately and follow suit. In the late afternoon, however, the gasoline prices fall. In this time the provider can offer each other, because before the end of the opening Hours it’s not worth it for you to increase the price. He, himself, tanke, therefore, always in the evening just before most of the gas stations close, says Wilhelm.

note: The idea for the evaluation came from the students, Tim Brückner, René Bucken and Luke Residents during a data journalism seminar at the Hamburg Media School.