Gas prices on the rise in Cayman

Grand Cayman gas prices, which dropped to a two-year low in March, rocketed back up last week, increasing by 40 cents a gallon for regular, unleaded fuel at some retail stations.  

The price increase, the first substantial rise since October, comes on the heels of a significant retail price increase in the U.S. since January and a steady rise in Brent crude oil prices over the same period.  

The increase also comes amid recent warnings in the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly that indicated locally operating petroleum companies could soon face tighter regulations and price reporting requirements via a proposed Public Utilities Commission.  

Prices at George Town and Seven Mile Beach area Esso-Sol Petroleum gas stations reported a 15 cents per gallon increase on regular, unleaded fuel since last Tuesday, from $4.22 to $4.37 for regular, self-serve unleaded fuel. In West Bay, prices for full-service unleaded went from $4.25 per gallon to $4.45 per gallon, and in North Side, prices went from $4.25 to $4.40.  

Prices at several Rubis-owned stations in the George Town/Prospect/Savannah area went from below $4 a gallon to $4.39 per gallon for regular, full-service unleaded gasoline. The prices went up late last week. 

The average price of regular, unleaded fuel at Grand Cayman gas stations had fallen steadily since late 2014, from a high of $5.59 per gallon in mid-October to an average of $4.38 on Grand Cayman in January, to $4.15 per gallon in late March.  

Average prices on Grand Cayman again hovered in the $4.35 to $4.41 range last week, more or less matching January’s retail prices.  

The price increase was not entirely unexpected. In early February, U.S. retail prices started to rise after falling spectacularly between June 2014 and January 2015. Since then, retail prices for regular, unleaded fuel have gone from US$2.18 per gallon to Monday’s U.S. national average of US$2.54 per gallon. Some market analysts, including the American Automobile Association, were expecting retail fuel prices to dip slightly again by the summer.  

Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for fuel prices, increased from US$55.79 a barrel as of March 31 to US$64.75 as of Friday. Oil futures project the price pushing above US$65 per barrel.  

While international petroleum prices continued their upswing, local lawmakers argued earlier this month that the local “markup” was too high and that local fuel distributors had for years “hidden” their actual markup figures from the government.  

Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts, whose ministry has responsibility for the Cayman Islands Petroleum Inspectorate, said during the Legislative Assembly’s debate on a gas prices motion that he had “given up hope” of trying to negotiate with local fuel distributors Rubis and Sol Petroleum.  

“I don’t believe a word they tell me about their markup,” he said.  

There are two “markups” with regard to retail gas and diesel sold at local stations. The first occurs between the time the petroleum product leaves the supplier’s shores and arrives in Cayman for storage at the Jackson Point fuel terminal; the second occurs when the fuel is loaded into the pumps at the gas stations.  

Historically, it has been difficult for government to obtain that information from local retailers and impossible to get it from the fuel distributors, so Mr. Tibbetts said the government is left with “the continuing saga of the Petroleum Inspectorate inquiring about prices of fuel and not being able to have any method to verify the information that they receive.”  

“The Petroleum Inspectorate will have proper legislation in place which guarantees their ability to get this information,” he said.  

Gas prices in Cayman have increased by about 40 cents a gallon for regular, unleaded fuel at some retail stations since last week.


  1. I get very concerned when I hear the Planning Minister say that he had "given up hope" of trying to negotiate with local fuel distributors and that he does not "believe a word they tell me about their markup." These statements are clear indicators of serious problems that need to be dealt with immediately. I am also somewhat disappointed to learn that the government does not already have legislation in place which guarantees their ability to get the information they need to verify the "markups."

    The government needs to get moving quickly as the cost of fuel has the single largest impact on the cost of living and doing business in the Cayman Islands.

  2. The two best ways to reduce prices are:

    1. More competition. Open the local market up to a third or even fourth competitor.

    2. A move away from gas powered vehicles. There are a limited number of electric powered vehicles here but they all suffer from the same problems – too expensive and over-engineered.
    They just aren’t powerful enough to serve as one’s only vehicle and too expensive to buy as a second vehicle.

    A Chinese manufacturer is making what amounts to a glorified golf cart. With a range of about 100 miles and top speed of about 40 mph. But they sell for about $5,000 – low enough to justify as a commuter vehicle. And sufficient range for most commutes.

    Perhaps something like this could be sold and approved for use on our roads.

  3. In the US, as well as in several other parts of the world, the majority of the cost increase to petroleum (above the product itself) is as a result of the taxes imposed. Retailers traditionally only make a few pennies per gallon on the fuel sold, whereas the majority of the profits earned from a gas station are from the sales of sundries, goods and other items sold in the convenience store.
    If even the government does not know what local retailers are paying for the gasoline, how can they regulate what the product is being sold for? In the US, we have laws against that which is defined as price gouging.
    The government should know and disclose to the public what the taxes are that are imposed on a gallon of fuel, which are passed on to the consumer. I simply find it appalling that the government has no idea as to what the cost is for retailers to purchase fuel from the distributor, at any given time. Without knowing this, it is very easy for retailers to increase the costs without any repercussions. Combine that with a lack of competition and you have the perfect setting for price fixing.