Prices at the pump in the Cayman Islands rose by about 10 cents two weeks ago, bringing the price for one gallon of premium gas to over $5.30.
Though Chief Petroleum Inspector Gary McTaggart explained that it is not always easy to know specifically why gas is increasing or how much the price will rise.
“Gas prices are impacted by several factors including the price of crude oil, government regulations, taxes, supply and demand, transportation costs, market speculators and competitive conditions, so it’s difficult to point to any one thing that is affecting the market at a given time.”
World events play a factor.
“Oil prices are currently increasing because of all the unrest in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain that might affect access to the Suez Canal,” Mr. McTaggart said.
Oil companies do not set prices at the pump in the Cayman Islands, but can make recommendations on the amount of increases, as the companies themselves are governed by United States anti-trust laws that do not allow price fixing.
The Cayman Islands consumes the equivalent of about 3,000 to 4,000 barrels of oil per day, according to the Petroleum Inspectorate.
With gas prices rising and expected to go even higher as summer approaches, consumers are looking for ways to conserve.
Mr. McTaggart said the time of day someone gets gas makes a difference.
“Gasoline expands when heated and if you fill up early in the morning, when fuel in the station’s tank is cool, there may be some gain in volume as opposed to when the gasoline warms up later in the day,” he said. Carrying less weight in a vehicle, making sure tyres are properly inflated, not accelerating too hard and economising the use of air conditioning are some simple ways in which gas and money can be saved.
Tony Brown, manager at Brown’s ESSO, joked that one thing consumers could do to start saving on gas is, “Drive the speed limit”. He explained that the gas business is not necessarily the windfall consumers think it is. “We have to pay eight per cent of every cent that goes through our register to our franchise,” he said. “That is about $18,000 a month, plus rent of about $17,500. Our [electricity bill] is about $12,000 per month and we have about $40,000 in payroll each month. That, in addition to what is happening in the world market, is why we have to charge what we do in the Cayman Islands.”
The size of Cayman’s population plays a role in gas prices.
“What we need is more people, so we can have a lesser margin, but now we need a higher margin to make up the profit,” Mr. Brown said.