Diesel, petrol and other fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas are distributed at more than 14,000 road and 350 motorway petrol stations. In addition to the major petroleum companies, there are numerous companies independent of multinational enterprises operating in the fuels market: organised in the , these companies operate approximately 5,700 stations according to the association's statistics, while companies organised in the operate more than 2,250 road petrol stations.
In view of the market position of the major brand companies, most of which are present throughout Germany, the German Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) believes that there is an oligopoly dominating the market consisting of five providers. The German Federal Cartel Office described this in the final report of its sector study of presented in May 2011.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has recently initiated several legislative measures aimed at promoting competition in markets for liquid fuels:
For data collection and market observation in the fuel sector, a for Fuels was set up at the Bundeskartellamt. As of 31 August 2013, petrol station operators and oil companies must report all price changes of the common fuel types Super E5, Super E10 and Diesel in real time to the Market Transparency Unit for Fuels. For the purpose of consumer information, it passes on the price data received to authorised consumer information services and enables consumers to find out about current fuel prices and the cheapest petrol station in the area or along the route via the internet, via their smartphones or on their navigation devices. This is a measure that is boosting competition. In addition, the ability of the Bundeskartellamt to intervene is being improved. This goes especially in the case of illegal exclusionary strategies and other forms of market power abuse.
In the 8th revision of the Act Against Restrains of Competition, which entered into force in June 2013, the prohibition against so-called price-cost scissors, which was originally slated to go out of effect at the end of 2012, was extended. Price-scissors sales are deemed to take place in the market for fuels whenever a petroleum company demands a lower price from car drivers for fuel at its petrol stations than that supplied to competitors (for instance, independent petrol stations). This type of strategy for squeezing out competition in the market would have a negative impact on competition and prices over the medium and long term.
In Germany only those liquid fuels may be introduced in commerce that meet the German or European standards as laid down in the requirements of the Tenth Ordinance on the Implementation of the Federal Immission Control Act (10. BImSchV). E10 fuel has been part of this since the end of 2010 in accordance with a requirement set out in the European Fuel Quality Directive. This is a petrol with an ethanol content of up to ten volume per cent. Because E10 fuel is not suited for all cars and many car drivers reject the new fuel, already established E5 fuel with a maximum of five volume per cent ethanol content continues to be sold everywhere. Up to seven volume per cent is allowed to be mixed with diesel fuel at present.
About six million heating units are fuelled with heating oil in Germany. Just like in the case of liquid fuels, quality-related properties for EL heating oil (extra-light) are laid down by the . Standard heating oil with a maximum sulphur content of 1,000 mg/kg, low-sulphur heating oil with a maximum of 50 mg/kg sulphur content as well as biofuel oil, in which at least three volume per cent fluid fuel from renewable raw materials is mixed in, are common. In comparison to the liquid fuel market in Germany, the heating oil market is both more regionally oriented and has more small and medium-scale providers.