Friday morning, I was out on an errand and the radio station said gas prices were going to go up 30 cents by afternoon because Texas refineries were shutting down for Hurricane Ike. It’s always been a source of contention for me when some “issue” between the oil fields in the Middle East and the refineries here has immediate upward impact on pump prices. It’s gotta take at least a day for refineries shutting down to result in empty pipelines from Texas to Michigan. And how long does it take to empty those million-gallon tanks you see near every population center?
My biggest complaint is how stations raise prices based on the news, not the product in their tanks. If the station paid $3.75 per gallon for what’s in the tank, then the pump price should be $3.80 or $3.85 per gallon until the next damn delivery! The stock already in the tank is bought and paid for, isn’t it? Who gets the extra profit from the price jump? The station or the damn oil companies? Isn’t the collusion obvious to government when all stations in an area charge the same price and change their prices at the same time? Hello! Don’t tell me you’re on the lookout for gouging when anyone with at least one good eye and a brain can see otherwise.
Knoxville prices jumped a whopping 85 cents! That’s truly obscene! Toronto consumers saw a meager 45 cent increase in anticipation of Ike’s effects. I bought gasoline Friday at $3.789 per gallon. By Saturday, the same station’s price was $3.899, but prices in the region were as high as $4.399, with an average of $4.179. Unlike Knoxville’s apparent shortages, that doesn’t appear to be the case here. So, why the big price jump? And why the unusual 50 cent spread in pricing? Prices usually tend to be within a dime.
Imagine my distress to see an Exxon station with $4.199 regular and, across the street, a Mobil station with $3.999 regular. ExxonMobil is the Great Satan in my book and the fact one is 20 cents cheaper than the other at the same intersection is truly mystifying. One blog referred to the situation as temporary and urged restraint on the part of consumers. That makes sense to me: don’t play into the oil companies’ manufactured hysteria.