Area residents, distributors contend with rising cost of gas

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2003

With gas prices at their highest ever for consumers, people in the Miss-Lou are still filling up their tanks while waiting for the prices to drop.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the price of gas has never been recorded by the EIA as high as it was on Aug. 25, at an average price of 174.7 cents per gallon, or nearly $1.75. This is 34.4 cents higher than the average price per gallon a year ago, according to the EIA.

And the price took it largest weekly increase ever between Aug. 18 and Aug. 25, according to the EIA, rising 12 cents per gallon, a 7.4 percent increase.

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The reason sited for such a hefty price for gasoline is the high demand, even record demand, of the summer months, particularly around Labor Day, and the lowering supply. The EIA reports crude oil prices have remained stable, even though they are higher than they have been in past years.

The EIA sites combined factors around the country as part of the problem, including but not limited to the blackout in the Northeast and a gas pipeline rupture in Arizona. Because of the blackout, three refineries temporarily shut down and the pipeline rupture left Phoenix gas stations with no gas. These areas had to, then, get gas from other places, causing an increase in prices.

Local oil distributor Buffalo Services President Ross Partridge said the price increase is what he sees at the terminal, where distributors get their gas. Distributors have nothing to do with what the terminal price is, but it affects the prices at the pumps.

&uot;We adjust our price to our customers on that basis,&uot; Partridge said. &uot;Nobody likes to pay more.&uot;

Many Miss-Lou residents even take the time to shop around for the lowest priced gas to avoid the high costs.

&uot;I just go wherever it’s cheapest,&uot; Vidalia resident Ashley Roberts said.

Her sister Kyla Castillo said she does the same.

&uot;I think it’s ridiculous (the high price of gas),&uot; she said.

But the high prices do not keep people from buying gas but keeps some from filling up their tanks.

Ferriday, La., resident Barbara Crumb said she just buys gas when she needs it.

&uot;If you ask me how much it is, I don’t know,&uot; Crumb said.

&uot;Whenever I need it, I just get gas.&uot;

Other area residents do pay attention and close attention to the rising prices of gas.

&uot;I try not to go as much when it’s so high,&uot; Teresa King of Vidalia said.

But King said she likes to stick to the same stores to buy gas, not doing much shopping around.

People that drive many miles for their jobs also are feeling the pains of high prices.

Steve Fleming said he travels close 6-to-700 miles per week.

&uot;Gas means a lot to us,&uot; he said.

Fleming said the prices are &uot;mighty high&uot; and shops around for the best prices when he is not in a hurry.

&uot;If I get to a station where the gas is high, I don’t put much in it (his truck),&uot; Fleming said.

And the price of gas in the Miss-Lou is not even as high as the national average. In fact, it is almost 10 cents cheaper.

Many do not think the high prices are justifiable.

Jack Kirkendoll, traveling through Natchez Wednesday for business, used to work in the retail end of the gas business.

&uot;I think there’s no justification for the prices,&uot; Kirkendoll said. &uot;Because I don’t see normal indicators of normal supply problems.

&uot;I’m trying to figure out where all the money is going. Not to retail,&uot; Kirkendoll said, whose wife still works in the retail end of the business.

Local gas station owner A.E. &uot;Bubber&uot; Zuccaro agreed. Local business owners are not seeing large profits from the gasoline cost hike but are paying more for gasoline too.

&uot;When you are being competitive, you are not making very much money and that is what happening,&uot; Zuccaro said. &uot;At times we sale gas at what it costs us. If, actually, to have a legitimate margin, gas would have been about 15 cents a gallon hirer than it was ( a week ago),&uot; Zuccaro said. &uot;We have made less money since gas is so high. (We made a) better profit when 35 to 40 cents cheaper.&uot;

Relief may be on the way. With crude oil prices dipping, that drop in price will trickle down all the way to consumers in time. Partridge said, and he said the price is dropping.

&uot;This is the worst we have had,&uot; Partridge said.