Local gas prices have dropped precipitously on Grand Cayman and significantly on Cayman Brac since last fall, but the smallest of the Caribbean island chain’s three locales – Little Cayman – seems to have been left out of the savings.
Little Cayman does not have an actual gas station, but rather a single pump located outside the Village Square grocery store where everyone who owns a car or a non-diesel powered watercraft goes to fill up.
The price per gallon of regular, full service unleaded gasoline at the Little Cayman pump has remained at $6.49 per gallon since at least last October, when fuel prices on Grand Cayman began to fall.
Since mid-October, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline on Grand Cayman has dropped from $5.59 to $4.19. On Cayman Brac, the price for the same gas has declined from $5.75 per gallon to $5 per gallon.
However, according to figures released by the Cayman Islands Petroleum Inspectorate on Feb. 20, the Little Cayman price has remained the same since October.
Several Little Cayman residents – of which there are fewer than 200 – have contacted the Cayman Compass to complain about the high gas prices, but none has agreed to comment publicly.
The managers of the Village Square store and Rubis-supplied gas pump, Don Broadbent and Kevin Myers, also declined to comment about the local gas price, referring the newspaper to their corporate suppliers to explain the issue.
The two local fuel suppliers, Rubis and Sol Petroleum (operating as Esso), have often explained that there is a lag in supplies reaching the Cayman Islands that often causes pump prices to remain higher, longer than comparative prices in the United States.
On Grand Cayman, the companies generally receive fuel shipments about every four weeks and the cargo they receive has often been loaded onto the supply ship in the U.S. weeks prior to arriving in the Cayman Islands. For the Sister Islands, that lag can be more pronounced, particularly given the relatively low volume of fuel sales recorded in Little Cayman.
Chief Petroleum Inspector Duke Munroe said there will always be significant differences in retail fuel prices between the Cayman and U.S. markets simply because of supply issues, economics of scale and other significant differences. Those differences are more pronounced in the much smaller retail markets of Cayman Brac, with a permanent population of about 2,000, and Little Cayman, with a full-time resident population of 170.
The question that remains is how much higher those prices should be, Mr. Munroe said. “[It’s] anybody’s guess, as we do not have objective means to determine this presently,” he said. “[This is] not to convey that Cayman is so very unique in terms of imports, geographic location, infrastructure, market structure, product type, etc. Considering our size, population and key sectors, we do relatively well compared to similar-sized jurisdictions, especially the other overseas territories.
“However, being a relatively higher-cost jurisdiction will make a mark on end prices over and above, especially when compared to the U.S. retail prices.”