Expert: Its supply, demand

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 26, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Gasoline prices have fallen across the country over the past week. They&8217;re just falling a little more slowly in Natchez.

Gas in Natchez has cost roughly 10 to 30 cents more than towns like Jonesville, Brookhaven and Jackson.

&8220;Today, I waited until the price went down,&8221; Natchez resident Shelley Junkin said as she filled her car for $2.49 a gallon.

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&8220;I waited until I had .05 gallons left. It&8217;s even cheaper in Jackson.&8221;

In fact, prices in Jackson were as low as $2.21 a gallon Friday.

Melvin Gaylor, a Natchez resident, said he drives to Vidalia when he can because the prices are lower.

&8220;I go where gas is cheaper,&8221; Gaylor said as he filled up his Cable One truck.

His private vehicle uses a higher octane, so filling up is even more expensive, he said.

&8220;I can use regular on this, but I&8217;ve got to use the good stuff on my other truck,&8221; he said.

Charles Campbell, professor of economics at Mississippi State University, said one of the causes may be the number of gasoline distributors.

&8220;Look for how many distributors control gasoline in Natchez,&8221; Campbell said. &8220;If the answer is less than three, that&8217;s probably the reason. You can have 100 gas stations, but if there are only three distributors, they can control the prices.&8221;

There are at least four gasoline distributors in Natchez: Buffalo Services, Inc., Independent Oil, Cloutier Oil Company and Kaiser Enterprises.

There could be other reasons for such a price gap, too, MSU microeconomics professor Ben Blair said.

&8220;Transportation costs could be different for Natchez for some reason,&8221; Blair said. &8220;If it&8217;s somehow more expensive to get gas to Natchez, the vendor passes that price on.&8221;

Also, demand in Natchez could simply be higher, which would drive prices up past that in surrounding areas.

Spokesmen for Natchez gasoline distributors were not available for comment Friday.