Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lawrence gas prices markedly higher

Gas prices in Lawrence are currently above the national average and well above neighboring cities' gas prices. There is no explanation for why the prices are currently so much higher.

Gas prices in Lawrence are currently above the national average and well above neighboring cities' gas prices. There is no explanation for why the prices are currently so much higher.

May 26, 2011

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Tips for saving gas over Memorial Day weekend

Despite higher gasoline prices, more Americans plan to travel over the Memorial Day weekend than last year, according to AAA. In Lawrence, gasoline prices are averaging $3.79, which is $1.10 higher than a year ago. To help ease the pain at the pump, here are some ways to save money on gas.

If you thought gasoline prices seemed higher in Lawrence than anywhere else in northeast Kansas, you are right.

Recently, Lawrence gasoline stations have been out of line with what their neighbors in Topeka and Kansas City are charging.

For proof, look at the average prices on Wednesday provided by AAA Kansas:

• Lawrence: $3.79

• Topeka: $3.63

• Kansas City, Kan.: $3.68

• Wichita: $3.65

• State average: $3.76 (as of Tuesday)

“Lawrence is sticking out like a sore thumb,” said Jim Hanni, who is executive vice president of AAA Kansas and keeps a keen eye on gasoline prices across the state and country.

Hanni didn’t have an explanation for why Lawrence’s gas prices were higher — and neither did those in the industry.

“Each company has its own pricing scheme and how they do it,” said Tom Palace, executive director of Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Owners Association of Kansas.

“Lawrence is one of the more competitive areas in the state, so I don’t have an answer why it’s higher than some other areas,” Palace said.

The Lawrence Journal-World made repeated attempts this week to contact representatives of the companies that own the most gasoline stations in Lawrence: Zarco 66, Kwik Shop and Presto. Those companies did not respond to our inquires.

We were able to talk to one company, QuickTrip. But company spokesman Mike Thornbrugh said he wasn’t sure what caused the Lawrence-specific price hike.

“Price is solely based on competition,” Thornbrugh said. “There can be a whole set of different circumstances from community to community.”

Both Thornbrugh and Palace said the prices could have something to do with the supply of gasoline. In the spring, oil refineries have to switch from producing winter blends of fuel to summer blends, which are intended to reduce smog.

Gasoline stations in communities that fall under Environmental Protection Agency guidelines — and need to get rid of winter blend fuels before summer regulations go into place — will drop prices, which could explain some of the difference, Thornbrugh said. Lawrence does not fall under those guidelines.

And Palace was quick to point out that gas stations had the right to charge whatever they want, but it’s mostly driven by competition.

“Usually someone moves (the price down), and they all have to match it. If they don’t match it, they lose business,” he said.

While Hanni couldn’t explain the irregularity in Lawrence gas prices, he did have good news about where the prices might head.

A combination of lower gas consumption, oil refineries completing the shift to summer blends and a strong dollar in Europe could cause gas prices to stabilize.

Analysts at AAA see gas prices shying away from the $4 a gallon mark and settling into a range of $3.25 to $3.75 a gallon throughout the country.

Of course, that prediction hinges on good weather and relative stability in the Middle East.

“There are always caveats and so many factors,” Hanni said.

Comments

Ralph Reed 4 years, 1 month ago

Big oil charges more in Lawrence just because they can. There's no good reason for higher gas prices here.

If you're driving out of town don't fill up here, fill up after you leave town and before you come back.

Good article Christine, too bad you got stonewalled.

beezee 4 years, 1 month ago

Definitely the truth. So, Mother's Day weekend I was with family at a festival in Leavenworth; drove up through Lansing. Lawrence was getting stiffed 3.89.9 for gas but up there same product was 3.72.9 pretty much everyplace. And the reason isn't because... geee-- it's easier to deliver gas to Lansing.

So the answer to prices in Larryville come down to two very simple things: GREED and COLLUSION. It's a feature of life here in our "vibrant" [pardon me while I barf] town. So while our gutless commissioners are deciding which big-shot developer to subsidize next, the populace is left paying for the illusionary benefits of life in Lawrence. And Amyx et al fret over just why jobs go elsewhere and people shop elsewhere. HEY MIKEY! It's because "elsewhere" is better!

What has long puzzled me is why the Attorney General's office hasn't taken up an investigation of price-fixing for gas statewide. When I first moved here in 1970, competition was active, and gas prices fluctuated. Consumers had choices. But for a long time, the prices here and a number of other towns only vary by a penny or so and remain fixed in any burg for weeks on end. So you can't tell me the distributors and corporate station owners are not involved in price fixing. They are, and have been, and ought to be ripped by the Consumer Affairs division.

webmocker 4 years, 1 month ago

"What has long puzzled me is why the Attorney General's office hasn't taken up an investigation of price-fixing for gas statewide. When I first moved here in 1970, competition was active, and gas prices fluctuated. Consumers had choices. But for a long time, the prices here and a number of other towns only vary by a penny or so and remain fixed in any burg for weeks on end. So you can't tell me the distributors and corporate station owners are not involved in price fixing. They are, and have been, and ought to be ripped by the Consumer Affairs division."

There certainly could be price fixing. Or the enhanced ability since 1970 to share information instantly and the consolidation of gas stations under a few corporate umbrellas has made it incredibly simple to know what the price is elsewhere, and adjust accordingly in just a few minutes, or hours at most.

rtwngr 4 years, 1 month ago

The new norm is going to be gasoline $3-$4 per gallon. This is ridiculous. We need to lift the moratorium on new refineries. Shallow water drilling and drilling in the Anwar would produce the levels of petroleum we need. The EPA is a joke and so is this administration.

tolawdjk 4 years, 1 month ago

What moritorium on new refineries? There are permits to build new refineries in Arizona, Utah, and South Dakota. There is a new refinery in North Dakota looking to build without a permit. An existing refinery in Texas is doubling its current size.

There are -zero- moritoriums on new refineries.

jesse499 4 years, 1 month ago

The high gas prices right now if you watch the stock market has very little to do with inventory and a lot to do with investors buying and selling paper just like Bernie did in 2008 and not one of these is going to buy one drop of real oil just screwing us running the price up so they can make money!!!!

workinghard 4 years, 1 month ago

You know, not all of a gas stations profits come from the sale of gasoline. Look at all the stuff for sale at QT and other big gas stations, they make a lot of money off of the sale of food, drinks and tobacco. Boycott these items and buy only gas. If enough people do it, they will notice.

TimW 4 years, 1 month ago

Important point. Believe it or not, many station owners (individual stations, not corporate) hate when prices go up as much as we do.

Anectodally...A friend of mine owned a (Mobil) station in Massachusetts. During the big spike three (?) years ago he explained it to me this way: He didn't set the price at his station, Mobil did. It was basically a few cents markup on what they paid for the supply, the markup was flat and not a percentage. As prices rose and more and more people paid with plastic the markup stayed the same, but the amount paid with % to the card companies for processing went up.

You fill up with 20 gallons at $3.89...That's $77.80, with 3% (made up number) to Visa that's $2.33. The markup has to be $0.12 a gallon for the station to make a penny of profit.

Same fill up at $2.49 a gallon and that markup drops to $0.07 for the station to make money.

I don't know if works the same way with other companies but, at least with Mobil, gasoline sales are a VERY small margin business.

Three years ago when prices first skyrocketed, I was basically told by this friend that unless you went inside for a coffee and a Snickers (or paid cash) he was actually losing money on a pretty decent percentage of his transactions.

Maybe things have changed just a little, but a lot of these stations really do rely on the convenience store or garage in order to make their money.

tomatogrower 4 years, 1 month ago

There is still no explantation why gas prices are almost 20 cents in Lawrence, at least one that makes sense. If you have relatives driving in for graduation, warn them to fill up before they get to town. My business takes me out of town often enough that I've stopped buying my gas in Lawrence, and I am a big supporter of buying local, but not this time.

number1jayhawker 4 years, 1 month ago

This is what I thought of as a reason for the higher prices.

I drive through Edgerton to work and it's $3.67 there.

Jeff Goodrick 4 years, 1 month ago

Topeka fuel is always cheaper, Diesel in Lawrence was $4.09 at Dillions, Topeka Dillions it was $3.75, Perry was $3.99.

grandnanny 4 years, 1 month ago

Supposedly competition makes a difference but the little gas station in Linwood was selling gasoline for $3.72 and the other station on Hwy 32 at Elm Grove had it for $3.71. Neither one has much competition. These stations are usually higher than stations in Lawrence but not lately. Yes, and even the turnpike has gas for $3.71. Something is rotten in Denmark - er, Lawrence.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm surprised L1 or one of the other Randians hasn't come on to jabber about the "free market". They stick it to us because they can. Same with grocery stores and food and the recent rise of the price of milk to over three dollars a gallon. (Milk and gas tend to track each other in price/gallon.) They'll yak at you about how they had to do that because of the rising cost of transport to get it to market. (Which is pretty much BS.) In the meantime Exxon posts record profits while the US taxpayers pay squillions to the oil companies in thug "insurance" to try and keep gas prices down. Yeah. Right.

beezee 4 years, 1 month ago

A postscript to my comment up at the top: Christine, don't let the corporate jerks put you off what could be a very interesting JW investigative series. Go for them, and don't "take prisoners."

jlzack 4 years, 1 month ago

As I was returning to Lawrence from Perry Lake Monday morning, I paid $3.63 at Casey's in Perry.... I'm so glad I filled up before I went home...

RoeDapple 4 years, 1 month ago

Several locations in Topeka were $3.599 yesterday.

somedude20 4 years, 1 month ago

Maybe we can get Sting or Kenny G to do a benefit to help lower gas prices in Lawrence. Do the beggers know that higer gas prices leaves less money for them? Lets pull a 1992 Los Angeles Riot on this town or we can just pay the stupid prices......

birdsandflowers 4 years, 1 month ago

I have to go to Topeka tomorrow. I will make sure to gas up while I'm there. Sorry to the "buy Lawrence" campaigners. I'm not going to drain my pocket to line others.

tomatogrower 4 years, 1 month ago

They don't seem to understand that a lot of people in Lawrence commute, so they are going to start losing money as people fill up before coming home. I usually buy my gas in town, but not until they lower their prices to the same as the surrounding areas. And the only time I buy the extra stuff they sell is when I'm buying gas, so they will lose money there too.

kernal 4 years, 1 month ago

I think tomatoegrower hit it on the head in his first post. Looks to me like our local stations raised their prices for the mass exodus of the students. They probably figured, correctly, that most of the students driving home, would fill up their tanks before leaving Lawrence for the summer, or forever.

Guess I will go to Topeka to shop tomorrow and while there, I will fill up my tank.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 1 month ago

Do higher gasoline prices mean that fewer people will be using internal combustion lawn mowers to kill the planet?

labmonkey 4 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence is usually cheaper than anywhere else, now there is crying when they are a little higher. I am sure that extra $1.50 you paid for that tank of gas is going to break you.

RoeDapple 4 years, 1 month ago

Y'all can use that there high priced gas to drive across town to keep from payin' a few pennies more in the special tax districts! Haw, Haw!

RoeDapple 4 years, 1 month ago

Last I saw Kroegers in NW Douglas county was $4.199. His attitude?"Don't like it? Tough sh#t!"

countrygirl 4 years, 1 month ago

And when was the last time you actually saw someone filling up there?

RoeDapple 4 years, 1 month ago

Fill up?!?! Hell I never see anyone pull up to the pumps!

;-)

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

If you shop at Dillon's, you build points that build up each month and give you a discount on gas purchased at Kwik Shop stores. It can be as much as .40/gallon if you shop there each week and fill up towards the end of the month.

The Kwik Shop at 19th and Mass accepts the Dillon's discount cards, and so does the one at 23rd and Harper - I assume from that that the other ones do as well, although I can't be certain - just to be precise.

Getting your prescriptions there bumps up the discounts as well, pretty significantly.

The points don't transfer to the next month, so the best way is to build them up and use them each month, as I suggested above.

And, finally, you have to use a Dillon's card when you check out to get the points - it also gives you some discounts on your shopping stuff.

Katara 4 years, 1 month ago

I just use my gas points at the Dillon's in Topeka. It is foolish to waste that discount to bring the price down to something that is already that price in many other locations.

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

Ok.

I don't go to Topeka much, so I use it in town.

And, there are benefits to spending your money locally where it circulates more in the local economy.

hawkergirl 4 years, 1 month ago

How about everyone NOT buy gas on ONE day & see if we can get it lowered? May 27th - don't buy any Lawrence gas. Tell your friends on facebook.

hawkergirl 4 years, 1 month ago

It's NOT for oil companies - it is just a statement for Lawrence gas stations since they can "pick" their prices.

tomatogrower 4 years, 1 month ago

Why not everyone who works out of town fill up out of town.

MarcoPogo 4 years, 1 month ago

I understand that, but the logic is still the same: not buying gas for a day doesn't really effect their bottom line because then people show up the next day to buy gas (maybe even a little more since they didn't fill up the day before). It would need to be a longer span of time and people aren't going to do that because they have to get places, take the kids wherever, etc.

I wonder what would happen if individual stations were the target of a "boycott". Maybe we could test run it in SimCity.

somedude20 4 years, 1 month ago

I was toying with the idea of starting "The Gas Party" much like the "Tea Party" but figured that people might get the wrong idea of what it is and try and reenact the scene from "Blazing Saddles."

RoeDapple 4 years, 1 month ago

Count me in! I'll bring my own. beans.

puddleglum 4 years, 1 month ago

like everything else in this town....they'll overcharge you as much as they can get away with.

no surprise here.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 1 month ago

"need to get rid of winter blend fuels before summer regulations go into place"

I about gagged on that one, and had to read through all the comments to see if anyone else noticed there was something wrong with that statement.

Sure, there might be some emission changes, but that is usually done in the summer to reduce vapor lock, which will prevent your car from running at all in the summer months if you have winter fuel in the tank. Winter gasoline is blended to have a higher volatility so that it will evaporate and therefore combust at a lower temperature.

Therefore, when attempting to drive using winter gas in the warmer months, you are very likely to have your gas lines, carburetor, or fuel injectors lock up due to vapor and not gasoline in the fuel system.

And then guess what - your car won't run at all!

The best way to avoid ever having that problem in the summer months is to run your car mostly out of gas in the spring, and then fill it mostly with summer blend.

tolawdjk 4 years, 1 month ago

Partially true. Many regions of the country do have "special" summer blends to decrease volitility to help their ozone attainment issues. For the life of me, I can't remember of the KC area has one as part of their maintenance area still or not, I think they do.

The trick gets to being that you can have blends that end up being illegal in different regions...LA gas may not pass Chicago rules and vice versa. So you can end up with a situation of a refinery fire/malfunction having a large summer time effect in one region that cannot be offset be shipping in gas from another production district. Refiners use this as a double edged sword...they help a region with their pollution issues, but then have looked themselves in as the only ones able to supply it for that region. You really saw this back when MTBE was the oxygenate of choice in some areas and banned as an additive in others.

Oil production and US refining capacity is such a morase to wade into. It makes nice 3 min soundbites at 6 oclock, but in reality is a damn complicated subject to wade into. Oil shale and tar sands production along with Bakken field production and the interest in the Niaobra formations is the hot topic in the production end right now. However, you can move on those issues full steam ahead and it won't have a huge immediate effect on US gas prices partially because the infrastructer just isn't there to move that volume of crude to the major refining areas of the country. The refineries in those immediate areas are already tapped at 80% or more production.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 1 month ago

No, no, no. Gas is cheaper there because they sell it by the liter!

jesse499 4 years, 1 month ago

As for Zarco ,kwik and Presto not retuning phone calls they were in a price fixing meeting and could not call back.

nikinana123 4 years, 1 month ago

Talked to my brother in Chicago area a few days ago...only 3.69. Why is Lawrence paying more for gas than the Chicago area?

SoundMind 4 years, 1 month ago

In Topeka today, gas at the new KwikShop at 21st and Belle was $3.57/gallon; with my Dillon's card it reduced the price to $3.55/gallon.

SMH

Richard Payton 4 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence has been low on gas prices. Presently, the price is higher in Lawrence. Go to gasbuddy.com and check gas prices. Missouri has lower prices more often than Kansas due to the fact that Missouri has the lowest gasoline tax in the nation presently.

workinghard 4 years, 1 month ago

Why is the E85 always right at .50 less than the price of gas? If gas goes up, E85 follows to match.

BigPrune 4 years, 1 month ago

Since the gas prices skyrocketed my gas mileage has gone down. Are they watering down my gas with ethanol?

I remember an article a few years ago in the JW about why gas prices were so high. The excuse back then was because Lawrence didn't have a pipeline and Kansas City and Topeka did, and Lawrence's gasoline had to be trucked in. Seriously?

The real reason why gasoline is so high is because we are an island of blue in a sea of red. :)

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

My mileage has stayed about the same, and maybe gotten a little better.

verity 4 years, 1 month ago

"Analysts at AAA see gas prices shying away from the $4 a gallon mark and settling into a range of $3.25 to $3.75 a gallon throughout the country."

So now we are to be happy because the prices are going down a few cents? They make it sound like that is cheap.

kernal 4 years, 1 month ago

Since that bill for higher speed limits, I've been wondering about Brownback's, and other legislators, investment portfolio and how much of is in companies tied to the oil industry. Higher speed limits equals higher fuel consumption, thus better yield for the stockholders.

Brownback ain't nobody's fool.

lionheart72661 4 years, 1 month ago

Yea! It's called price gouging and has been going ob for a very long time. I know they say June delivery or July delivery and a barrel of oil has dropped almost $25 a barrel in the last 3 weeks and here in Lawrence the price has gone down a nickle! You can bet that if it went up $25 a barrel we'd be paying more than $5 a gallon at the pump today!

somebodynew 4 years ago

I am paying $3.19 for the past several days in Topeka - - Still $3.49 or so in Lawrence. But there is nothing going on here.......

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