Gas prices edge upward, expect continued rise
Gasoline will see an increase when the new maximum allowable price (MAP) becomes effective tomorrow (Nov. 1) while the rest of the other petroleum products will get a slight hike in their MAPs.
Data released by the Office of Petroleum Management (OPM) shows that the new MAP for gasoline will be $3.91 per gallon, an increase of 6 cents per gallon, as American Samoa heads into the Nov. 6 general election. The next MAP will be released on Nov. 16.
The hike will put the retail price of gasoline over the $4.40 per gallon mark.
The national average price is $3.55 per gallon while the average in Hawai’i is at $4.36 per gallon, according to the website hawaiigasprices.com which tracks daily gas prices in the Aloha State.
As a point of interest, at this time four years ago, when American Samoa was heading into the 2008 general election — which included the gubernatorial race — the MAP dropped by 24 cents, putting the retail price at $3.63 per gallon.
Regarding the other petroleum products, Sione Kava with OPM said that effective tomorrow, the new MAP for kerosene and jet fuel will be at $3.90, an increase of 3 cents per gallon.
The new MAP has road diesel at $4.11 per gallon; boilers/generators (used by the Tafuna Power plant) at $3.79 per gallon; commercial fishing vessel diesel at $3.66 per gallon and other marine diesel at $3.72 — an overall increase of one cent per gallon, said Kava.
According to OPM, there is a two-cent per gallon hike for the Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), which is used for the eleven generators at the American Samoa Power Authority’s temporary power generation system (TPGS) in Satala, and the ULSD road diesel used by Education Department school buses.
Kava reminds local residents that American Samoa receives petroleum products from Singapore and explained that the Singapore analysis of petroleum shows that in the 3rd quarter price analysis, Platt’s Dated Brent crude oil refined in Singapore for the Pacific region remained between US$95 a barrel and US$108 barrel, with the monthly average at just over US$102 a barrel. This is an increase of US$7.03 a barrel from the previous month, he said.
He also said that the mixed picture of recent developments in world oil demand has possibly become even more extreme during the past couple of months.
“While demand in Europe, particularly in Mediterranean countries, continues to weaken as the economic situation deteriorates, it still appears to be holding up relatively well in the US,” Kava said. “In contrast, in Japan and South Korea, demand has recently been very strong versus a year earlier.”
At the same time, the sanctions against Iran’s crude exports which came into effect at the beginning of July have slashed Iran’s total exports. “We have a slower yet still rising supply, but a relatively strong demand,” he said.
As for gasoline, Kava said, Asia’s outright benchmark gasoline price rose by US$9.03 a barrel in July and an average of US$110 barrel for the month. He said the surge in prices is being attributed to renewed import demand by Indonesia, Thailand, and South Asia as well as the shutdown of Thailand’s Bangchak refinery due to fire.
Regarding jet fuel and kerosene, he said prices rose by 6.5% averaging just over US$117 for July. The rise is the result of production cuts, refinery maintenance and outages as well as sustained efforts to move cargo west, drawing down supplies in Asia. Additionally, there was a slight hike in July — by 5% in freight cost.
“Overall, with the rise in petroleum produce prices and freight rates, fuel prices are expected to rise,” he said.