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Prices go up on fuel and kerosene beginning today— Mar. 15

Motorist will soon see a slight increase in the retail price of gasoline at local gas stations, with the release this week of the new maximum allowable price (MAP) or wholesale price of all petroleum products sold in American Samoa.

For the new MAP — effective Mar. 15 to Apr. 14 — Office of Petroleum Management (OPM) officer Sione Kava says that there is an increase in crude oil prices and this translates to an average increase of 3 cents per gallon on the base price for diesel; 2 cents per gallon for gasoline; and 2 cents per gallon on jet fuel imported and sold in American Samoa.

On the transportation side, Kava explained that transportation costs go up with any political turmoil in the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) area. “This time it is the US’s continued issues with Iran and recently, North Korea,” he said.

According to OPM, the base and the transportation cost makes for over 57% of the MAP on diesel, and 61% of gasoline and jet fuel sold on island. These costs are determined by the global market and American Samoa and the rest of the region for that matter have very little to do with it, OPM points out.

Effective yesterday, the new MAP for gasoline is $2.75 per gallon, a one-cent per gallon increase from the previous MAP. And it’s also a one-cent increase for jet fuel and kerosene — which is still used by several local families.

For other petroleum products new MAP prices are:

•     3 cents per gallon hike in diesel fuel - road diesel ($2.78 per gallon); boilers and generators ($2.47 per gallon); and other marine diesel ($2.35 per gallon).

•     2 cents per gallon increase for Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel for road diesel (which is used by new school busses) and boilers and generators (used by new generators at the Satala Power Plan).

Based on the previous MAP, the average retail price at the pumps for gasoline was $3.23 per gallon; and for diesel at $3.29 per gallon — an average 49 cents per gallon on gasoline and 53 cents per gallon on diesel on top of the MAP.

“If the same average holds for the [new] MAP, we can see an average of $3.24 per gallon for gasoline and $3.30 per gallon for diesel at the pump,” said Kava, who reminds all consumers that ASG and OPM have control over the MAP, which is the “price — with what discounts may be — that the gas stations are paying the suppliers — Pacific Energy and Sunrise Oil — for fuel to their gas stations.”

However, Kava stressed that ASG/OPM has no control over the price at the gas station, or the retail price — as this is determined by the owners.

Samoa News points out that every time the retail price of gasoline hits the $3 per gallon mark and starts heading upwards at the pumps, motorists start complaining to their lawmakers and traditional leaders.

Such complaints in past years, especially when the retail hit $3.50 per gallon and continued upwards, had Kava along with officials of petroleum suppliers called before Fono committees to explain the reasons for the increase and what ASG is doing to keep the costs down.