MOUNT VERNON — Summer gasoline prices are here again, with local prices for regular gasoline as high as $2.85 per gallon this past weekend. Although nobody likes the price spike, it was not entirely unexpected as gasoline prices typically go up for the summer.
But with prices at what most people have come to expect as average the past few months, and the fact that prices are still a bit lower than last year at this time, some may find it difficult to accept the recent price increases.
Bill Englefied IV, president of Englefield Oil in Licking County, said the major reason for local prices being high is because prices at the Chicago distribution point for this part of the United States are higher than other distribution points around the country.
“We have just the one location [we deliver to] in Mount Vernon,” he said. “And that’s the Duke & Duchess on 36. We are the owner and operator of that location. We have a supply agreement with BP that we are required to buy from them. We buy every day based on what the BP price is to us.
“We have control of what we sell the product for. But to be honest with you, we have not made much money on gasoline for quite a while. The difference between what we pay for it and what we sell it for is very little. What’s a little strange right now in Ohio, it’s a little higher than the national average.”
Englefield said that right now, the Chicago spot price is about 25 to 40 cents higher than east coast Merc prices.
“There’s a supply disruption in Chicago or a lack of supply,” Englefield explained. “So that’s why prices here are higher than in other parts of the country right now. Why that is, we sure don’t know. We buy every day what they tell us the price is. And we do our best to make money, which isn’t always easy.”
Generally, he said, most profits from an operation like Duke & Duchess are derived from the convenience store associated with gasoline sales.
“Typically, two-thirds of our gross profits come from our store,” Englefield said.
According to the Oil Price Information Service, prices are likely to remain higher than average for a while.
An article from OPIS supplied by Englefield said Chicago gasoline values, which skyrocketed in the last three weeks, may continue to dominate the top spot among gasoline markets east of the Rockies for longer than expected. Getting enough supply to meet the demand in the Chicago service area seems to be the problem, according to the article. Gulf Coast shipments may not be able to keep pace with the surging demand in Chicago.
Chicago pump prices were running over $2.85 a gallon on average, well above the $2.57 a gallon national average.
Prices in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio now rival the typical “top-dog” prices in California as the most expensive statewide average for pump values in the lower 48 states.
Consumers are philosophical, if not a little impatient, about the price of gasoline.
“I feel like [gas prices] are outrageous,” said Danny Edmund of Mount Vernon as he was gassing up at the Duke & Duchess on Coshocton Avenue. “One minute they’re down low and the next minute they want to shoot it sky-high. Right now I blame the economy for it. And President Obama. He promised he was going to change things. Well, he hasn’t proven it to me yet.”
The problem doesn’t just hit close to home. Richard Thomas and his wife, Charlene, who are from Iowa, were passing through Mount Vernon on their way to North Carolina.
“It went up in Iowa,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve seen it go down at all. We’re on our way to North Carolina and we thought we should fill up before it goes back up to $4 a gallon. I didn’t expect it to go up. When it goes up 10 or 15 cents a gallon, that’s a little much.”
Whatever the reasons for the high cost of gasoline, some consumers are feeling it.
“It’s too high for my pocketbook right now,” said JoAnn Kunkle of Mount Vernon. “It’s just the way the system works.”