Regular unleaded gasoline prices plummeted – in some cases by more than 40 cents per gallon – starting Friday as Grand Cayman’s fuel costs continued a downward trend that began in late October.
Unlike the modest but steady decline seen over November and December, the drop this weekend was precipitous. Several Rubis-supplied stations in Savannah and the eastern and southern sections of George Town saw their prices for regular unleaded drop from $4.79 per gallon to $4.37 per gallon, a 42 cent decline from the last date prices were measured on Jan. 5.
The price reductions for regular unleaded gasoline at Esso-Sol stations was less, but still significant. Most Esso stations’ per gallon prices declined between 20 and 25 cents as of Saturday, when compared with the Jan. 5 prices.
Only a few stations surveyed by the Cayman Compass Saturday in George Town, Bodden Town and West Bay districts did not report significant drops in gas prices over the past two weeks. Those included the Eastern Avenue Rubis station and the Seven Mile Beach Rubis station.
The Cayman Islands Petroleum Inspectorate had not released updated station-by-station gas prices for the islands since Jan. 5, but the average price for regular unleaded gasoline observed at 17 stations by the newspaper was $4.66 per gallon. Prices varied widely between the highest rates along Seven Mile Beach [$4.84 per gallon] and stations in central George Town, Prospect and Savannah [$4.37 per gallon].
That average is nearly a dollar per gallon less than where gas prices stood on Grand Cayman in mid-October, when the average for regular unleaded gasoline was $5.59 per gallon. At individual stations in George Town and Savannah, prices had fallen off by $1.20 per gallon in the three-month period.
The drop in average gas prices on Grand Cayman over the past six months, including the latest price decline, has still not caught up with a spectacular fall in U.S. retail prices since last summer.
The U.S. national average retail price for regular unleaded gasoline peaked sometime in June 2014 at US$3.67. As of Saturday, the American Automobile Association put the national retail average at just above US$2.07 per gallon.
Local suppliers Sol and Rubis have said that comparisons between U.S. and Cayman pump prices have little value because of vast commercial differences in the two markets.
Cayman’s Chief Petroleum Inspector Duke Munroe agreed with that assessment last week. However, he also opined that there was room for local fuel prices to decline further – even if U.S. retail prices and world crude oil prices steadied or increased in the coming weeks.
“There will always be a significant difference between U.S. retail prices and Cayman’s,” Mr. Munroe said. “The question is, how much higher?
“[It’s] anybody’s guess, as we do not have objective means to determine this presently.”
Meanwhile, there were signs oil’s extended decline in value was drawing to a close last week. Worldwide oil prices closed at above US$50 per barrel for the first time in seven weeks and there were indications from the International Energy Agency that reported lower prices had forced suppliers to curb production in North America and some other locations.