February 27, 2013

Gas cost not likely to fall

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star

GRADY COUNTY — As the cost crude oil of continues to steadily rise, Grady County citizens can expect little to no relief from increased gas prices.

Chuck Mai, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma said damaged refineries on the eastern side of the country have contributed to recent price increases, but even after they're fixed the investors interest in petroleum will keep prices up.

"They (prices) go up like a rocket and down like a feather," Mai said. "That relates more to capitalism than anything else. Companies are just more inclined to raise prices than lower them."

This is actually an area that Oklahoma comes out ahead of the game compared to the rest of the country according to Mai. Given that there are so many fueling stations in the state compared to people living in Oklahoma, it's often that a gas company will lower its prices in an effort to corner the market share, which forces competition, Mai said.

"It works really well in the consumers favor," he said.

As for local commerce, citizens polled on The Express-Star's Facebook were split regarding whether the high gas prices would affect their driving habits.

"No, I still have to drive the same," Cheris Brown said.

Debi Camp simply said "yes" to the increased cost causing her to drive less, but Jessica Corey Brookman said she will continue to drive frequently regardless of the price of gas.

"Chickasha doesn't offer all the things its citizens need, so we have no choice but to use gas to drive to Norman, OKC or Lawton," she said.

Global demand has also played a role in the continuing rise of gas prices, Mai said.

"It continues to keep upward pressure on gas prices despite unremarkable domestic demand due to a still recovering economy, high unemployment and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road," Mai said in a press release. "In particular, China - the second largest oil-consumer after the U.S. - saw crude oil demand hit a record high of 10.62 million barrels in January, which was up ten percent from the same month in 2012."  

Local gas prices are well below the national average with three states and Washington D.C. paying above $4 a gallon.

Despite the damaged refineries coming back online, Mai said only a small decrease in prices should be expected.