Archive for Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gas topping out around $3

If that’s not enough to make you fume, just wait for $4 a gallon

August 31, 2005

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When Kelley Davis saw employees at a gas station on 23rd Street getting ready to change the price signs Tuesday morning, she decided it was time for a quick fill-up.

Davis filled up her car just before the pump price was changed from $2.69 per gallon to $2.75. Despite the $45.06 she paid for that tank of gas, she was just glad it wasn't higher.

"It's crazy," Davis said of gas prices.

It's going to get crazier. Stand by for gasoline at $4 per gallon.

Thanks to the damage Hurricane Katrina has done to the oil and gasoline industry's production, refining and distribution system in the Gulf of Mexico region, gas prices in Kansas could reach the $4 mark, said Kim Mathewson, spokeswoman for Kansas AAA in Topeka. That estimate was made Tuesday by Oil Price Information Service, which provides gasoline price information in the AAA online fuel gauge report, Mathewson said.

No one was predicting how quickly gasoline prices would rise, but when you woke this morning, most likely stations were already raising prices again, Mathewson predicted Tuesday.

"I don't think we're going to have any kind of decrease in the next couple of months," she said.

A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline sells for $2.99 a gallon, while premium grades have passed $3 at the BP gas station at 914 Iowa.

A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline sells for $2.99 a gallon, while premium grades have passed $3 at the BP gas station at 914 Iowa.

Even though hurricane damage was limited to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, an estimated 50 percent of the nation's gasoline originates in the Gulf area, where pipelines and barges carry it to other areas of the country, according to a report issued by AAA.

It also is unclear whether a move under consideration by President Bush to allow limited release from the U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve will help the problem. The current supply of oil is good; the problem is getting it through the refining and distribution system, Mathewson said.

The skyrocketing gasoline prices come just as the nation was preparing to celebrate the Labor Day weekend. Before Katrina struck, AAA was predicting more than 34.5 million people would travel 50 miles or more, with 28.8 million of them traveling by vehicle. So far there are no revised travel estimates because that would mean another round of surveys, Mathewson said.

No price gouging

Gas stations began raising prices in Lawrence and elsewhere Tuesday even though a full assessment of the damage to the oil and gasoline system hadn't been made.

The Kansas Attorney General's Office on Tuesday afternoon had not received any allegations of gasoline price gouging from the public, spokesman Whitney Watson said.

There is no state statute that defines what price gouging is, Watson said. But based on previous court decisions, prices would have to be at least 2 1/2 times the "normal market price," he said. With pre-hurricane rates in the $2.50 to $2.60 range, that would mean $5 to $6 per gallon prices before price gouging could legitimately be considered, he said.

"That doesn't mean that if overnight a gas station increased prices by a $1.50 that we wouldn't look at that," Watson said. "We monitor the situation all the time, but we have to go with what the courts have indicated in the past."

Winter heating concerns

Though fall and winter are approaching, it is still too early to tell how gasoline prices will affect rates for utility customers using natural gas or propane, industry officials said.

Propane rates were expected to be 10 percent to 15 percent higher across the board this winter before Katrina struck, said Justin Holstin, executive vice president of Propane Marketers Assn. of Kansas.

"We're actually not expecting to be any higher than usual because the interruption in the Gulf of Mexico is temporary," Holstin said, adding that he might have a better understanding of the situation later in the week.

The hurricane damage will probably cause higher natural gas rates, but it was not known how much an increase might be, said George Minter, vice president of corporate communications at Aquila, which provides natural gas to Lawrence customers.

Davis was stunned when she was told gasoline prices could reach $4 per gallon. The single mother of two said prices that high would force her to drastically change her driving habits. Her children would have to take the bus to school and she would walk to the grocery store.

"I think everybody should just not drive," she said. I can make a tank of gas last a month and a half if I have to, just to be a snot about it."

Comments

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

If we continue to buy no matter what the price at the same rate of buying as say a year ago what does that tell the big oil people? It says we don't care what you charge you keep it coming??? Not a good message. Once again cut back more than necessary.

trueninetiesgirl 10 years ago

every one should boy cot the gas for a few days. we have had to start charging ,our day care parents for transportting this yr due to the price of gas....

Bruce Bertsch 10 years ago

You are close, but there is only one reason for lack of refining capacity...the oil companies have closed all small refinieries and refused offers by other groups to purchase them. They control the supply and are happy to make us pay for demand when their facilities are unable to meet it. Releasing from the strategic reserve may lower the price per barrell but will do nothing to reduce the price at the pump.

Shardwurm 10 years ago

But wasn't the war in Iraq a war for oil according to Bush critics? If so it sure isn't looking that way.

Do some research. One of the main reasons for the increase in gas prices is the decreased refining capability in the United States. Due to a variety of reasons - soaring labor costs, heavy regulation, and aging equipment, many refineries have shut down.

Now much of the fuel is refined in foreign countries like Japan, so it has to be shipped there, refined, and shipped back. This obviously adds to the cost.

But even with that consideration, the price of a drum of oil is heavily controlled by OPEC. Until they increase production it won't matter where the oil is refined.

Don't get me wrong - I drive 65 miles one-way to work every day and this is killing me. All I'm trying to say is that there are numerous reasons for this surge in prices. I wouldn't mind a price freeze myself, but the trouble with that idea is that it will only force oil companies further into a corner with their refineries.

Despite all this I do believe there is a significant amount of gouging going on. A couple of weeks ago oil went up $1.00 a barrel and prices jumped 10 cents overnight (despite the fact the fuel in the tanks hadn't changed). A couple of days later it dropped $3.00 a barrel and we had no change. It's definitely a racket but there is no easy solution.

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

Decreased refining hmmmmmm. Our USA oil companies have been posting record profits for a few years so why don't they put money back into the business such as maintaining and/or building new refineries. Take a look at the CEO's salary package and Wall Street. It's called neglect of business and manipulation of comsumers.

It's time for some boycotting. Boycott gas as much as you possibly can. Take up walking,riding bikes and playing in the park near your home for fun and recreation. Lawrence is small so walking and cycling out to dinner, movies or for a night cap is a real possibility. Cycling and walking to dinner or a movie can be a healthy family affair. Some folks will need to consider relocating closer to the work place.

Lighting for night time cycling has many more advanced choices than 30 years ago. Baskets and panniers can carry a lot of goods from shopping.

Go for a constant partial boycott. Yep cut way back on gasoline purchases. We are being manipulated. Why would Katrina be a legitimate reason for price increases?

War for oil is about control and greed not lower pricing. Alternative fuel sources is but one answer along with 60-70 mpg cars.

mightyquin 10 years ago

merrill is right, till consumers cut back on their demand the oil companies will provide the supply at the prices they want. Wake up people, Big Oil is making record profits and yet they whine about lack of refining capacity. As long as we continue buy gas whatever the cost they are in control.

mightyquin 10 years ago

That brings to mind a good point. Are the othe industry leaders so impotent that they cant bring any pressure on Big Oil. It would seem to me that those industries which rely heavily on fuel would or should be leading the charge for more efficiency, alternatives or at least more capacity. Wouldnt it be ironic if manufacturers had to open plants here because it cost too much to bring in from overseas.

hodgie 10 years ago

Boycotting gas is unrealistic for me. I commute 60 miles a day.

I'm not all that business savvy, so I'd like to ask some questions. How is boycotting gasoline going to make companies lower prices? In order for this to make any sort of impact, a large amount of people would have to be involved. Also, the companies would lose money, wouldn't they? How would losing money make a company lower their gas prices?

craigers 10 years ago

The outrageous oil execs salary packages are nothing new and it is all over corporate America, so don't blame that for the oil prices going up. I do think that the oil companies could take it in the shorts for the rest of this year and help the consumers out a little bit. Other products in the marketplace don't react this quickly to the demand/market determined price.

compmd 10 years ago

I'm surprised that nobody here has mentioned alternative fuel vehicles. I proudly give a raised middle finger to OPEC and big oil companies whenever I can. My car runs on peanut, sunflower, canola, olive, filtered waste vegetable, and new or used and filtered motor oil. Oh, and regular diesel fuel too. I can get 38 mpg in a huge sedan. I'd like to see you comfortably fit 5 in a Prius or Insight. My motor also probably has another 250,000 miles to go before it needs serious work. Did I mention its cleaner, too? Never look down on an old Mercedes diesel. Its more reliable and economical than anything else out there.

The city should look into burning vegetable oils in their garbage trucks if they are indirect injection motors.

righthand 10 years ago

merrill - no new refineries due to govt. imposed environmental regulation

wendt - latest studies show that hybrids would lose their conservation effects after six years. they will only save YOU money

mightyquin - BIG OIL? I hear echoes of BIG AL... try something unique.

let's keep perspective folks... gas prices, c'mon, who is darn glad they live in Kansas now, regardless of our evil antievolutionary ways? If you want to be productive, let's find ways to help those sinking in the south!

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

Environmental regulations as a reason not to build new more efficient refineries is bogus. Oil companies went for sweat factory wages abroad. Can't believe oil company folks.

It is likely they are building up 2006 campaign treasures cuz GW is not looking good as a president. They will be out to prove that voters can be bought with sleazy commercials. Corporate america has no repect for voters or consumers. The price of new cars is also questionable. SUV's/pick-ups according to a consumer magazine had high profit margins.

2006 better turn away some legislators like Jim Ryun if anyone out there wants change in economics.

C_hertling 10 years ago

Merrill Posted: "why don't they put money back into the business such as maintaining and/or building new refineries. Take a look at the CEO's salary package and Wall Street. It's called neglect of business and manipulation of comsumers."

My Response: The major Oil Companies have tried for years to build new refineries, only to be turned back by opposition from left wing environmental groups and by overly stringent regulations imposed in large part by the Clinton administration. Quit using capitalism and "Big Business" as a scapegoat.

I am the first to agree that we need to look into alternative energy sources and more efficient cars (my plans are to buy a Prius after George Bush's $3,100 hybrid tax credit takes effect in January) but that isn't an overnight process... in the meantime, the environmental lobby has prevented oil companies from expanding their refining and drilling capacity in order to keep up with demand.

kansaskev61 10 years ago

It's Bush's fault...it's Bush's fault. Give me a break. To the liberals everything is Bush's fault. I'm sure they will be able to somehow blame the destruction by Hurricane Katrina on Bush. I wonder what kind of car Merrill drives? An SUV perhaps. Those that criticize the loudest are usually the biggest consumers of fuel. As the prices get higher in Lawrence, maybe more people will start riding the ill fated "T"!

sixtwelvewest 10 years ago

Compmd, thank you for suggesting fuel alternatives. I'd also like to second the notion of a better public transporation system NATIONWIDE, not just in Lawrence. I live in a city where I am able to take the train or bus to work and anywhere else I need to go every single day, and I love it. I ditched my car and now rely on my feet, bicycle, and the public transport authority. If everyone would commit to public transportation, efficient, affordable, and reliable systems could be built. Look at Europe: Gas there costs MUCH more than it does in the United States, and not only do they have public transport but also smaller, more efficient cars. I'm not U.S. bashing at all because I used to be a driver, too, but this is one of the only countries where people demand their own vehicles. It's time to be responsible and start pushing harder for alternatives. The environment angle never pushed everyone's buttons, but the pocketbook issue will.

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

If it wasn't for Bush's illegal war, gas prices would be lower. If it wasn't for Bush's illegal war, hurricanes wouldn't happen. If it wasn't for Bush's illegal war, KU football would beat Nebraska this year. cry cry again. oooooooooo, evil corporations, oooooooooooooo, evil oil companies, oooooooooo, evil pharma companies.... this is hilarious. keep it up, you are getting me through the day.

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

I like fried food, I'd vote for that.

compmd 10 years ago

We refine ethanol from corn for gas in some parts of the midwest, but much more energy goes into that than getting corn oil. Some people on the coasts have resorted to going to Sam's club and buying 5 gallon jugs of soybean oil because its cheaper than diesel or gas. Crude oil is nonrenewable, but veggie oils are renewable. We have enormous farming capacity in the US. Why don't we simply grow our fuel?

spikey_mcmarbles 10 years ago

While I can't blame Katrina on Bush, I can blame the US Army Corps of Engineers for diverting money meant for levee construction around New Orleans towards the war in Iraq. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

mightyquin 10 years ago

Sean has a point in that we have foolishly and shortsightedly developed a culture based on cars and oil. Drive-through everything, urban sprawl and big honkin SUV's. We are mostly to blame for letting it happen. The auto and oil industries gladly encouraged us and happily provided the noose to strangle ourselves with.

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

wait a minute, the army corps of engineers diverted money?......

that is hilarious. just hilarious. I'll put that in my pipe and smoke it alright, but its crap and I don't smoke crap.

point me to a reputable source for that information spikey_mcmarbles. If not, then you are just another blowhard making wild accusations.....

Like.....

If it wasn't for Bush's illegal war everyone would have gotten out of New Orleans as ordered.....oops.

hryhoriy 10 years ago

Price gouging is a crime in Kansas. Complain here: to file a complaint, please write Attorney General Phill Kline, Consumer Protection Division, 120 SW 10th Ave., 2nd Floor, Topeka, Kansas 66612, or call the toll-free Consumer Hotline, 1-800-432-2310.

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

ok, you're not a blowhard, just found an article on it.

so, are we in the blaming stage yet for the New Orleans disaster? or will that still take a couple of days?

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

sorry to burst your bubble, "unfortunate nickname," but go to this article http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/996ssjsb.asp

you'll see some interesting stuff.

9/11 ties and Iraq.

Sigmund 10 years ago

We are finally paying close to the price as the rest of the world has been paying for years now. Big whoop. Actually, in inflation adjusted terms oil is no where near its all time high. On Tuesday, oil futures settled at $69.81, the highest closing price on Nymex since trading began in 1983, although still below the inflation-adjusted high of about $90 a barrel that was set in 1980.

It is only by having high oil prices that we will ever get serious development of alternative energy sources. People used oil and gas because it was the cheapest of the energy source choices. Now that it is a little more expensive, they will be a little more motivated to use/invest in alternatives. If it gets alot more expensive, they will be alot more motivated.

As for lack of refineries its the Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) syndrome. Add the enviromental regulations (for the most part goodness) and litigation happy lawyers with judgment friendly juries (mostly badness) which keep any sane oil executive from even thinking of building a new refinery in the US. Why take the risk or go through the effort?

In fact, I hear the refinery in El Dorado (as source of cheap gas to the Wichita area) will be shut down as soon as possible for fear of both environmental and worker/citizen litigations. If they reduce their risk of getting sued AND it leads to higher profits, why would anyone keep it open???

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

that is the sanest thing I've heard all day Sigmund.

Richard Heckler 10 years ago

Capt.Poindexter...

I've read that story several times which is grasping for straws. Based on the theory behind the story I would say that Saudi Arabia had more ties to 9/11 than any other country. Saudi funding and numerous Saudi's were actually on the 9/11 planes who received flight training in the USA.

Why did we go to Iraq?

Pakistan was harboring al Qaeda as well...the U.S. knew this. Pakistan has WMD's the U.S. knows this. Why did we go to Iraq?

Every now and then someone will say Iraq had wmd's. They could not be found by inspectors. Ten years we were surveilling Iraq like a hawk striking almost daily at radar and anti- aircraft sites. They could not lauch an attack on their neighbors let alone the U.S. Reagan/Bush provided Iraq and Iran with weapons probaly hoping they would destroy each other.

Why did Pres. Bush issue a stand down order thus preventing fighter planes from intercepting the 9/11 planes?

The Iraq war has two sides. One side is about control of Iraq oil resources. The other side is about diverting attention as to how could 9/11 ever have occured in the United States. Big Brother has always been lurking in america watching and listening...someone in a very important White House position dropped the ball. I do not believe it was our intelligence gathering operations. It is odd that no one knew this was being planned yet within hours the criminals were indentified although dead.

As a matter of integrity the United States should not sell weapons of any kind to unstable governments such as Iran and Iraq.

Attacking Iraq has virtually eliminated that source of oil from the market. Attacking Iran would do the same thus clearing the way for further increased oil prices...not too smart. Gas prices would zoom to the sky which has it's advantages from an environmental point of view.

Steve Jacob 10 years ago

Getting back on the subject, I decided I am not really going to complain about the gas rate hikes until they get all the dead out of the water in New Orleans. The mayor used the word "thousands."

This will end up as almost a 9/11 attack, but the spouces of the dead will not get the $$$ like they did.

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

merrill, first of all, we are all "grasping at straws" because nobody really knows that happened on 9/11 or what happened to the WMDs. There is no argument that Iraq DID have WMD. The french, UN, Germans, et al. never said they didn't have WMDs. They just thought it was fine and dandy. And gimmie some proof on the "stand down" order. The fact is the air traffic controllers had no idea where the planes where or what was going on. Blaming bush in some way for 9/11 is not only petty it is stupid. you are a smart guy, I never figured you for a black helicopter guy (that's reserved for us right-wingers :)). Anyway, the conversation about the "legality" of the iraq war and WMDs is pointless and hasn't been worth my 4 minutes of writing/thinking time. if you want to debate the BEGINNING of the iraq war, fine, go to a coffee shop in lawrence and fight it out with the 19 year old kid with a stupid "che" t-shirt on and leave us all alone. if you want to debate how the war has been conducted, then you've got an argument.
but the bush is liable for 9/11 rap is stupid and so is the WMD debate. the fact is, if you would remember, and I said it before, the existance of WMDs was not only the US's idea or thought. it was THE ENTIRE WORLD'S. the real question is, where are they now?

christie 10 years ago

I love my Toyota. Thank GOD I drive one. Whenever I see those big old SUV's I just point and laugh.

I hope you all enjoy paying $60,$70,$80 to fill up. It costs me about $25 and I go twice as far. In comfort I might add.

If everyone driving one of those SUV's were driving Toyotas, we'd be paying 1.85, but no, they have do continue to eat gas at incredible rates, thus filling up more often, thus eating the supply, driving up demand, driving up the price.

Where is the LEADERSHIP???? Wasn't it BUSH who pushed through TAX BREAKS for people who bought those things? Where is the LEADERSHIP???? Why isn't BUSH on TV advising people to car-pool, to encourage employers to let employees tele-commute, where are the tax-incentives to buy HYBRIDS????

WHERE IS THE LEADERSHIP???... on vacation.

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

and by the way, the fact that we ID'd the terrorists very quickly was easy. each plane had, on average, 60 people on them. 5 on each plane was not from the country, here on a visa, and from Saudi Arabia put together the puzzle. pretty tough stuff. I'm not a professor (thank god), but even I can figure that out.

captain_poindexter 10 years ago

sorry srj, just had to correct a few things.

true, until the dead bodies are cleaned up, I'm not worried about it.

Sigmund 10 years ago

Bush can't win. First his critics complained we went to war in Iraq for cheap oil. Remember the "No Blood For Oil" yardsigns (anyone have one left, put it up now, how ironic/moronic). But now that oil prices are spiking, his critics complain that the war was about increasing the price of oil. As hard as it is to do, they were wrong then and they are probably wrong now!

The Iraq War wasn't about oil at all, at least from the US perspective, remember the embargo and the UN sanctions? Well I guess the French and the UN had oil for food, but none (or damn little) of that oil was refined into gas for the US markets. In fact, Iraq's crude oil was NOT flowing freely to anywhere prior to the recent hostilities. It was effectively off the world market since the first Gulf War. So the concept that the recent Iraq war was a "Bush/Rove/CigaretteSmokingGuy from the X-files" ploy to limit the supply of Iraq's crude oil to drive up gas prices in the US is as ludicrious as the "No Oil For Blood" yardsigns were year ago!

onehotmomma 10 years ago

Wonder how many more people could have gotten out of the Gulf area if fuel had been cheaper?

As for gas guzzlers - have at them. I love my Mini, gets 36 mpg city, 42-46 highway. It also induces conversations with my fellow man at the gas pump, people smile at me more and it is just a blast to drive.

Tophawk59 10 years ago

I drive a 35 mpg Cavalier to work 33 miles each way. Unfortunately I have a 15 mpg Yukon XL that I need for my business. If gas prices continue to climb and consumers stop buying I will be able to sell my Yukon because I will most likely have to close my business down. Don't think these prices won't effect the small business man.

bige1030 9 years, 12 months ago

Apparently, the Republicans on this board think that Bush can do no wrong, despite that he has actually done things to this country that have harmed it.

His "eternal vacation" attitude didn't help relief to come immediately to the devastated regions. There's not enough of a military presence down there to help; they're all in Iraq. It seems like his timing to call for Congress to pass a bill about Terri Schiavo was much quicker than it was to call for this emergency session of Congress to send disaster relief to the devastated regions. Hmmm...the "life" of one is obviously more valuable than the lives of thousands...anything wrong here?

As for oil prices - remember that they don't just affect those that buy gasoline to power their vehicles. They affect the price of most everything. Whenever you buy a good at a store, remember that it had to somehow travel to the store where you bought it from. Also, if you get it delivered, it had to be shipped to you. The rise in oil prices is going to be devastating to the entire economy.

Keeping transportation costs low is vital to the health of our economy. Bush ought to have done something to keep fuel costs in line. Regulate oil companies and what they can do to prices. Expand drilling across the US while respecting our environment. Drill diagonally to get at the resources in the Alaskan wildlife refuge.

Also, a federal grant program to speed up research into alternative fuels is necessary. Get the hydrogen fuel cell working. Build a better electric motor. Something needs to be done to reduce our dependence on oil, and fast. (However, I doubt that this administration would do something like that, since it would cut into their profits.)

By the way, I drive a Dodge Neon.

majic12 9 years, 12 months ago

If that incompetent little psychopath in the White House had have the stuff Nixon was made of, he'd put a freeze on gas prices RIGHT NOW.

Christ, I never thought I'd miss Nixon.

majic12 9 years, 12 months ago

You Bush people should be exiled to New Orleans. I don't know why you argue so much about evolution --- there's no evidence of it among you.

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