I thought I should respond to Michael Black’s concerns about gas prices in Durango (“Letters: Durangoans are being ripped off by gas prices,” March 24).
Mr. Black, I feel your pain and wonderment. However, as a former resident of Southern California, I know a few things about being “ripped off” at the pump. There is an oil industry biopoly in the Golden State that keeps competition out and prices sky high through bizarre circumstances involving “refinery maintenance.”
While we are still paying roughly $2.40 per gallon of regular gas, my friends in Orange County, California, are paying nearly $4 per gallon, and that’s at Costco, where lines and waiting times can be insufferably long.
So let’s count ourselves lucky. This is not happening in Durango. Despite news of oil prices on the international “spot market” tumbling, we will have to wait to see when those prices are reflected at the pump. That oil must pass through the refineries before shipment to the pumps. Unfortunately, pump prices are based in part on what the retailer paid for his/her current supply of gasoline at wholesale. He/she will not sell an existing supply at a loss, nor should they be compelled to do so.
I have noticed that a company called Speedway has assumed ownership of several gas stations in the region. Prior to that changeover, those stations were charging higher than average prices. The Speedway takeover seems to have stabilized pump prices at the lower range, which has been a welcome change for the better.
So, my empathetic advice to Mr. Black is, be patient. If the international price for a barrel of oil continues to fall, future shipments of gasoline to our local stations will better reflect those market forces.