“There is no certainty of tomorrow”Is an adage that sounds very topical for anyone who has a petrol pump. The activities related to the distribution of hydrocarbons were considered more than solid until recently. Roughly like those of the large Blockbuster chain on the eve of the spread of the internet and Netflix or those of Nokia before the arrival of the iPhone. With the propalation of electricity, gas stations today see the same clouds on the horizon.
Not that it was all pink and flowers for them so far: squeezed between the state and large companies they manage to pocket about 3 euro cents per liter.
It is not new that small petrol pumps are the protagonists of a progressive massacre (only in Milan have they disappeared 150 in 10 years). To stay (and to be born) are the large service stations that keep their profit thanks to "non-oil", or ancillary services such as catering.
What will happen when with the spread of electric vehicles we recharge at home or in the office or at the columns?
Obviously, this is a question that many are asking, so much so that there are consulting firms – come la Insight Research in UK – who organize specific tours in Norway to study the change in the country where it is happening ahead of forecasts. There are already many cases of petrol stations converted into power stations to meet the needs of a car fleet in disruptive electrification and the most successful model is the one that combines catering or another commercial activity to not only recharge the vehicle.
There is also no shortage of petrol stations here who prefer to close, also because to face the change it takes a substantial investment.
The oil companies are moving: with Erg since 2017 it has abandoned oil for renewables, Repsol last year began installing ultra-fast charging stations in its stations in Spain. Anche Eni gas and electricity it has recently started work on a dozen stations in our country through its subsidiary Eni e-Start and thanks to the agreement signed with Ionity.
Totally converting a fuel station into an energy station today is an expensive bet of which the high costs are certain and not yet the earnings. But it appears as the only possible way. Certainly these are not investments that can be absorbed by a single gas station attendant and the support of companies or the state is essential.