This reporter passing a convenience store on Cherry Street noticed regular unleaded gas advertised at $3.39 a gallon on Oct. 8. “I proceeded to fill up because it was two cents cheaper here than any other store I had seen. I approached the counter to pay and the cashier had grabbed a device to change the sign. She stopped long enough to take my money, then went outside where she changed the sign, showing the gas I had bought for $3.39 a gallon changing to $3.54 a gallon. I think I was at the right place at the right time.”
Half of the fuel gauge cities saw small decreases this week while the Tri-cities saw higher averages. While the southeast region has some of the lowest prices in the country and has seen prices drop for the third week in a row, other regions are experiencing extraordinarily tight supply. The West Coast and northeast have seen higher than usual margins between crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices. The Tri-cities gasoline supply typically flows from the northeast, so this could help to explain their increase this week.
The national average is up 3.6 cents from last week and stands at $3.81. Regionally higher prices are counteracting the declines seen in the southeast to push the national average higher. California’s average jumped $.50 from last week alone. Regional refinery and pipeline problems are the major factor in regionally higher prices.
Global demand slides as Europe continues to deal with the debt crisis and China’s economy slows. Friday, crude oil closed at $89.88, $2.31 lower than the previous week. At this writing, crude is trading at $89.67.
For the best efficiency drivers should make sure their cars are in good shape, reduce excess weight in the car, use the most fuel efficient vehicle possible, and combine trips to reduce gasoline use. Other options are to take public transit where possible or ride a bike. Other suggestions are in AAA’s Gas Watcher’s Guide, free at AAA offices, and on the web at www.aaaet.com.
Other tips include keeping the tank half full because vehicles tend to operate more efficiently.
By Wes Hall