Steadily falling fuel prices in the U.S. and worldwide since early July once again are not reflected at the pump on Grand Cayman, statistics examined by the Cayman Compass reveal.
Stubbornly high gas prices were also seen last year during the period between late June and mid-October.
According to records kept by the Cayman Islands Petroleum Inspectorate, the average price for a gallon of regular, full-service unleaded gasoline was $4.71 in early July. By late August, although some stations had dropped their price per gallon below that, the average from the inspectorate’s figures was $4.72.
The petroleum inspectorate has not released an updated gas price report since Aug. 28. However, in recent days, average per gallon prices for unleaded regular, full-service gasoline have dropped to around $4.63, based on the newspaper’s own tally at the petrol stations. That represents a 2 percent drop in price since early July.
In the U.S., as of early July, the average price per gallon of regular unleaded was US$2.77. In late August, the American Automobile Association reported the national average at US$2.45. On Sept. 9, the average price of a gallon of regular, unleaded fuel in the U.S. was US$2.38.
The U.S. figures represent a 14 percent drop since early July. AAA estimated nationwide per gallon prices would fall below US$2 by the end of 2015.
Also, Brent Crude oil prices per barrel – a key international benchmark for petroleum pricing – have fallen erratically, but sharply overall since early July.
According to figures compiled by the Nasdaq and Bloomberg News Service, the price per barrel of Brent Crude was around US$65 per barrel in early July. In mid-to-late August, the price per barrel bottomed out at about US$42, then saw a small spike at the end of the month. As of Sept. 9, it settled at US$48.25 per barrel. That’s nearly a 26 percent drop within the past two months.
The same trend, though more pronounced, was noted toward the end of 2014 when U.S. pump prices fell by a national average of about 20 percent between late June and mid-October and the price of Brent Crude fell by 29 percent during the same period.
From early July 2014 to late October 2014, the Cayman Islands Petroleum Inspectorate recorded a drop in prices of three cents per gallon for regular, unleaded fuel.
Stating they are “fed up” with “high” gas prices, a group of residents is demanding that government and local fuel distributors take action to reduce petrol prices.
The group, organized by George Ebanks, is seeking signatures on a petition from Caymanians, other residents and tourists against what Mr. Ebanks has referred to as “unreasonably” high fuel prices.
“We are now used to seeing our visiting tourists taking pictures of our fuel station [sic] publicly displayed gasoline prices; no doubt because our prices are incomprehensible,” Mr. Ebanks said in a statement.
The Progressives-led coalition government has been critical of local fuel companies Rubis and Sol Petroleum. Planning and Infrastructure Minister Kurt Tibbetts warned gas and diesel distributors in August that they must turn over their operational cost data to government or face fuel price control legislation.
Mr. Tibbetts said during an address to the Legislative Assembly that a Public Utilities Commission Bill, seeking to require petrol distributors to reveal what they pay for bulk fuel shipped to the Cayman Islands and their markup on fuel, will be presented before the end of the year.
Historically, fuel companies Esso and Chevron-Texaco, and more recently operators Sol Petroleum and Rubis, have refused to release such data, saying it is proprietary commercial information.
The locally operating fuel distributors have sought to downplay comparisons between U.S. prices and Cayman Islands fuel prices due to the massive differences in the two markets.
The petrol distributors also note that they typically receive fuel shipments about every three to four weeks and that cargo may have loaded on the supply ship several weeks before arriving here. This delay has often been blamed for creating a lag in pricing compared to current international rates.