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Overall, gas prices on downward slide says OPM

While the base prices from the refinery in Singapore have begun to decline, the ASG Office of Petroleum Management (OPM) says the territory is not going to see the decrease in prices at the pump until later this month or next month.


OPM released last Friday the new maximum allowable price (MAP), or wholesale price, of petroleum products sold in the territory and the new MAP was effective Nov. 16. Except for a slight decrease in Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), which is the fuel used for the eleven generators at the American Samoa Power Authority in Satala and some school buses, the other petroleum products faced a slight increase, with the biggest hike in regular diesel.


OPM’s petroleum officer Sione Kava said there is not much change at this time for petroleum prices, but the trend seems to be that the Base Prices out of the Singapore refinery — from which American Samoa and the South Pacific region get their supply — is starting to decrease. “Overall, the trend — in prices — is going down, but we will probably not see the decreased trend for us until the next MAP or so,” he said in a phone interview yesterday.


Additionally, gasoline prices also decreased as a result of “our region's gasoline supply exceeding the demand.” Furthermore, the slow demand from the key aviation sector is also causing a small drop in price.


Moreover, diesel prices are falling due to weak demand and a decrease in crude oil prices, according to information from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Platt's Oilgram Price Report, said Kava.


As of last Friday, the average retail price at local gas stations stood at $4.08 per gallon, which is 47 cents a gallon above the MAP, while the average retail diesel is $4.42 per gallon — which is 46 cents a gallon above the MAP, said Kava.


(The 46 and 47 cents are the amounts that local gas stations add on to the MAP to cover overhead and other expenses).


With the new MAP, gasoline increased by 1.2 cents per gallon to $3.62 a gallon; while jet fuel and kerosene hike by 2 cents to $3.71 per gallon, according to data released last Friday.


The biggest increase — 5 cents per gallon — is with diesel fuel: with the MAP of road diesel at $3.25 a gallon; boilers/generators $3.64 a gallon; commercial fishing vessel diesel $3.49 a gallon and other marine diesel at $3.56 per gallon.


According to OPM there is a decrease of one-cent per gallon for ULSD — for both road and boilers/generators


Kava pointed out that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is doing all possible to make sure that the MAP —which is controlled by the government — remains low, but the governor cannot control prices at the gas stations.


He explained that in the U.S., stations charge about 21 cents per gallon above their MAP.


“When it comes to the MAP we have the lowest in the Pacific; however, when it comes to what the public sees as the retail prices at the pump, that’s controlled by the gas station owner,” said Kava.


OPM plans to conduct a survey later this week, to find out the average retail price for all petroleum products following release of the new MAP.  The next MAP is scheduled for release on Dec. 1.