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New MAP sees 17¢ decrease in local gasoline prices

Motorists in American Samoa are getting a major break in gasoline prices heading into the Thanksgiving holiday next week, as the new Maximum Allowable Price (MAP), or wholesale prices for all petroleum products sold in the territory, saw a decrease.

The new MAP,  which went into effect yesterday (Nov. 16), has gasoline decreased by 17 cents to $3.73 per gallon, according to data provided by petroleum officer Sione Kava, with the ASG Office of Petroleum Management.

Decrease in the gasoline MAP is expected to drop the retail price locally down to around $4.23 per gallon; however, gas stations usually wait until after their current supplies are used up before lowering prices at the pump.

As of yesterday morning, the national gasoline average price is $3.44 per gallon while the average in Hawai’i is at $4.09 per gallon, according to the website which tracks daily gas prices in the Aloha State.

Regarding other local petroleum products, Kava says the MAP for jet fuel and kerosene both decreased by .05 cents down to $3.85 per gallon.

For diesel products—- road diesel is $4.05 per gallon; boilers/generators (used by the Tafuna Power plant) at $3.74 per gallon; commercial fishing vessel diesel at $3.61 per gallon and other marine diesel at $3.66 — an overall decrease of .05 cents per gallon.

According to OPM there is also a five cent per gallon decrease 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 says theroller coaster rise and fall in gasoline and diesel prices tracks changes in the cost of crude oil and the changes are determined in the global crude oil market by the worldwide demand for and supply of crude oil.

“Weak economic conditions in the U.S. and around the world in 2008 and into 2009 led to less demand, which helped push prices down,” he said. “With the worldwide economic recovery under way, demand is on the rise again but unrest in the Mideast and North Africa has put supplies at risk. This combination of rising demand and reduced supply helped to push prices higher.”

He reminds local residents that crude oil prices are set globally through the daily interactions of thousands of buyers and sellers in both physical and futures markets, and reflect participants’ knowledge and expectations of demand and supply.

In addition to economic growth and geopolitical risks, other factors, including weather events, inventories, exchange rates, investments, spare capacity, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production decisions and non-OPEC supply growth all figure into the price of crude oil, he said, adding that the crude oil price is currently under $100 a barrel.

“I remind the public that when comparing prices, we should compare our prices with other Pacific Island nations such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga who, like us are supplied from Singapore. It is a mistake to compare our prices to that of the States, which are not supplied from Singapore” said Kava, who hopes that the decrease in all petroleum products will give residents some breathing room during the Thanksgiving holidays.