By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
Spring cleaning at oil refineries and fires at several plants
in Illinois and Indiana have contributed to the spike in gasoline
prices locally, officials say.
The average price per gallon of regular gasoline in the Grand
Lake St. Marys area is $1.63, following a random survey of posted
prices at 18 area stations. The highest price spotted was $1.69
at Marathon in New Bremen; the lowest was a tie within the village
of St. Henry — Dave’s Market BP and Hemmelgarn Marathon
both posted $1.59 early this morning.
Statewide average prices per gallon this morning were $1.67
per gallon, according to AAA’s fuel gauge report. National
averages hovered slightly lower at $1.64.
Terry Fleming of the Ohio Petroleum Counsel in Columbus said
prices actually started to decline in the Columbus area the
last few days as prices rose in Mercer and Auglaize counties.
Regular gasoline rose to $1.72 per gallon in the state’s
capital before falling Monday to about $1.67, he said.
“At the end of January, refineries get ready to change
over to different types of fuels,” Fleming explained,
adding clean air regulations mandate different fuel for different
The changeover combined with the necessary safety checks causes
a slow in production, he said. Fires at refineries in Illinois
and Indiana and a problem with another oil refinery in Kentucky
also have slowed the supply tremendously since January, while
cold weather across the country has increased the demand for
heating oil, he said.
“OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
once again decided to limit production worldwide. The speculation
always drives up prices a bit,” although the price per
barrel of crude oil has not risen for some time and remains
at about $34, he said.
OPEC plans to cut oil production by 1 million barrels a day
beginning April 1, the Associated Press (AP) reported Monday.
Although the AP reported gasoline prices climbing 17 cents since
late December, the local average price is up only 4 cents since
mid-January and down 12 cents since August 2003.
Fleming said he’d like to remind the public that gasoline
prices are actually only about $1.20 per gallon — federal
and state taxes account for an additional 43 cents per gallon,
“When we say we’re not making much money on gasoline,
we’re not lying. People just get mad when it goes up a
little because they know it’s something they have to have,”
Nearly three years of random gasoline price checks by The Daily
Standard show St. Henry residents consistently see lower prices
in their village than others in the area. All four stations
in the village were under the area average of $1.63, with Dave’s
Market and Hemmelgarn Marathon posting the lowest price, $1.59,
and Shell Food Mart and the Corner Station selling for $1.61.