Sunday, June 2, 2013

Corner station crosses $4.00 line, then retreats to it

In last week's installment of the gas price war, AKA the gas price rollercoaster, I observed the situation returning to normal, with prices returning to their pre-Memorial Day levels and behaviors.
The corner station once again raised its price for regular to $3.99, just as it had a couple of weeks ago.  The three stations down the block also raised their prices to $3.85, just about where they were at the same time.  Once again, the corner station had charged out into No Man's Land and were going to have to retreat into the trenches.  By this evening, that happened with the corner station matching the other three stations' price of $3.85.
On Friday, the corner station hiked its price for regular to $4.09.  (ETA: one of my friends on Facebook added that the price got as high as $4.15 on Saturday; I missed that.)  Today, its price dropped to $3.99.  I have no idea what the three stations down the block are selling gas for, but I bet when I see them tomorrow, they'll be at or near $3.99, too.

It's not just happening here.  West Michigan is experiencing it, too, as WOOD-TV reports in West Michigan Gas Prices Spike.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Gas prices in West Michigan are all over the place and causing some stations to see long lines of vehicles.

According to, the Grand Rapids per gallon average for gas is $4.06. Some stations in Kent County are selling gas for $4.15 a gallon; but some are still selling gas below $4.00.
According to Patrick DeHaan of, refinery issues are causing this price spike.  In other words, things haven't changed since early last month, even though people were expecting them to.

That's consistent with other information, as Reuters reports oil prices are down for both the last day of trading and the month as a whole.
U.S. oil prices fell below $93 a barrel, extending losses after weak consumer spending data. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to leave their output target unchanged, as expected, with little impact on markets as a result.

Brent oil fell $1.80 to settle at $100.39 a barrel. For the month of May, Brent crude slid 1.9 percent. U.S. crude oil dropped $1.64 to settle at $91.97 a barrel. For the month of May, U.S. crude declined 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, stocks of gasoline dropped despite oil stocks increasing.
U.S. gasoline inventories fell last week as motorists topped up their tanks ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, government data showed on Thursday, while stocks of crude oil rose to their highest level on record.

In its weekly report on fuel supplies, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said stockpiles of gasoline fell by 1.5 million barrels in the week ended on Friday, with more than half of the drop on the heavily populated East Coast.

Oil traders took the decline as a signal that the recent drop in wholesale prices might be coming to an end. Benchmark RBOB gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed off a four-week low of $2.75 a gallon after the report's release to trade back above $2.82.
Refinery issues really screw up the estimated gas price based on Brent crude.  According to Econobrowser, it should be $3.35, not right at $4.00.  Here's to the refineries being at full operation soon.

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