Regular, unleaded self-serve gasoline prices have gone up by an average of 55 cents per gallon since mid-March, a Cayman Compass examination of retail prices has revealed.
The average price at retail stations, which had dipped to $4.15 per gallon by March 18 was $4.71 per gallon in early July, according to the latest figures provided by the Petroleum Inspectorate.
However, at some stations, prices had increased within the past two weeks to around $4.90 per gallon on Wednesday, a more than 70 cent increase since mid-March.
The United States retail petroleum market has seen a marked increase in gasoline prices since January, but the March to July increase was averaging around 35 cents per gallon.
Fuel prices in the U.S. rose to an average of US$2.42 as of March 23. In mid-February, the average price was $2.30 per gallon of regular, unleaded gas, up from a January low, on average, of $2.05 per gallon.
On Wednesday, the national average for unleaded retail gasoline in the U.S. was $2.77.
Meanwhile, the average price per barrel of Brent Crude has dropped since mid-May, ending at US$57.42 on Wednesday.
Cayman Islands Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts, who has oversight responsibility for the local oil and gas industry, said earlier this year that he had “given up” the hope of negotiating fuel prices with the oil companies after years of private talks with Chevron-Texaco and Esso, now Sol Petroleum and Rubis.
The Progressives-led government has proposed greater fuel price transparency, particularly with regard to how much the oil companies mark up their products prior to retail distribution.
There are two “markups” with regard to retail gas and diesel sold at local petroleum 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 markup occurs when the fuel is loaded into the pumps at the gas stations.
Historically, it has been very difficult for the 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,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
Although Mr. Tibbetts spoke only about obtaining information on base-rate gas prices, and not regulation of those prices, local oil companies have warned Cayman Islands politicians about enacting a system of price controls many times in the past.
Earlier this year, Sol Petroleum’s Alan Neesome said Cayman consumers could be left out of retail savings that occur if the market is overregulated.
“Pump pricing here overall [has] decreased substantially, in line with international pricing, whereas prices in other jurisdictions in our region, especially those with regulations, are in many cases higher when compared to the equivalent price per imperial gallon for the same product,” Mr. Neesome said.