Does anyone know where to get a gas truck?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 14, 2008

Even before a few gasoline sellers started jacking up prices under the threat of Hurricane Gustav, several readers pointed out the latest in a long line of fuel price discrepancies in our area.

Although two different readers pointed it out and their tales were slightly different, the gist was essentially the same.

Each reader noticed that in a single day the price difference between a gallon of unleaded gasoline sold in Natchez and the same type of gas sold in Brookhaven was separated by approximately 60 miles of asphalt and 30 cents a gallon.

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“How can this be?” the reader asked?

“Those (expletive deleted) are just ripping us off,” the other guy wrote in an e-mail.

It’s a problem that we’ve attempted to explain for years.

A large number of citizens are convinced that the small brotherhood of local gas distributors is simply fixing the price somehow.

The gasoline distributors say it’s not there fault. Most often, they either won’t comment on the high prices or they say it’s just the price they’re charged by their suppliers.

Or, they’ll say the cost of delivering the fuel to our remote corner of the world drives up the cost.

Regardless, attempting to beat them up about this seems to do little good.

After hearing the latest round of reader complaints, the want-to-be entrepreneur in me got to thinking about a solution.

The key is flipping this problem around. Rather than looking at the high prices as a problem, we should look at them as an opportunity.

If the gasoline is cheaper in Brookhaven, what would it take to get the gas here?

First, I thought of constructing a Brookhaven-to-Natchez gasoline pipeline. Heck, we got a grant to construct a 10-mile pipeline bringing convict sewage from the new prison into Natchez, couldn’t we get something to lower gas prices? Consider it economic development.

But constructing a pipeline would be complicated and expensive.

What if there was a simpler method?

And what if the plan provided for at least one new job — a relatively lucrative job at that?

Somewhere out there, a young entrepreneur should listen up. The solution is simple.

Buy a used fuel truck, drive it Brookhaven, fill it up and haul it back to Natchez.

While that may seem a crazy notion (OK, it is a bit, but bear with me), the math works out quite lucratively.

A used fuel truck with the capacity of 4,000 gallons can be bought for anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000.

Even if the entrepreneur simply halved the difference between the Natchez price and the Brookhaven price, pocketing 15 cents per gallon, they’re making good money.

Just one round trip drive a day, five days a week, to fill up in Brookhaven and return to Natchez would cost approximately $600 a week.

Assuming all the gas was sold, five trips with 4,000 gallons a trip and 15 cents profit a gallon yields $3,000 of gross profit.

For just a few hours of work a week, you’d net (pre-tax) approximately $2,400. If you spent four hours a day, your earnings would be $120 per hour.

Anyone else see gold in becoming a gas hauler?

Does anyone know where I can buy a good used gas truck?

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or