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Ouch! Another petroleum hike — across the board

fili@samoanews.com

Another increase in all petroleum products sold in American Samoa went into effect Sunday, Apr. 1, when the new maximum allowable price (MAP), or wholesale price was released over the weekend by the ASG Office of Petroleum Management (OPM).

OPM’s petroleum officer Sione Kava said the new MAP for gasoline stands at $4.19 per gallon — an increase of 7 cents per gallon.

The new MAP now places retail price at gas stations at just below $4.60 per gallon, while one gas station on the Western district was yesterday selling at $4.61.

At this time last year, it was a 14-cent hike, which put the MAP at $3.81 per gallon, with the average retail price at around $4.20 per gallon.

Across the country, the average retail price was at $3.92 per gallon as of last Friday with Hilo, Hawai’i the highest in the nation at $4.71 per gallon, while the statewide average was $4.57, reports the Associated Press based on information from AAA Hawai’i.

Kava said yesterday that high gas prices are usually caused by high prices for crude oil, which accounted for 72% of the price of gasoline as of February 2012.

“Distribution and taxes influence the remaining 28% of gas prices,” he said, adding that the local MAP hike is due to an increase in Base Price (from the refinery) and transportation to American Samoa while the local charges — fees and taxes — remain the same.

As to why gas prices are going up now, Kava explained that in February this year, there were concerns about a potential military action, by either Israel or even the U.S., against Iran, which caused higher crude oil prices.

“Second, some oil refineries in the U.S. were closing,” said Kava, citing the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. “Third, oil and gas prices tend to rise every spring, in anticipation of increased demand during the summer driving vacation season.”

As a result, gas prices in the US hit the benchmark $3.50 a gallon by February 15, two weeks earlier than in 2011, he said.

“By mid-March, the national average had jumped to $3.87 a gallon. That's because the price of crude oil reached its benchmark of $100 a barrel two weeks earlier, as well. Crude Oil went on to hit $109.77 a barrel by the end of February, before dropping slightly to $107.40 in mid-March,” said Kava, citing the EIA report.

For jet fuel and kerosene, the new MAP is $4.05 per gallon, an increase of 2 cents per gallon, said Kava.

For diesel fuel, the new MAP has road diesel at $4.28 per gallon; boilers/generators (used by the Tafuna Power plant) at $4 per gallon; commercial fishing vessel at $3.79 per gallon and other marine diesel at $3.39  — an increase of 4 cents per gallon, said Kava. 

Regarding 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, the new MAP sees a hike of five cents per gallon.

MAP for the generators is $4.05 per gallon while ULSD for the road is $4.37.



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