Large disparity in Grand Cayman gas prices

Gas prices at one group of retail gas stations fell significantly this week, while other retail average prices remained largely unchanged from two weeks ago. 

Rubis retail outlets started dropping their prices on Monday at various locations, ending Thursday at an average of $4.37 per gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline at stations in Bodden Town, George Town and West Bay. 

Meanwhile, as of Thursday, Sol Petroleum-supplied stations posted an average $4.69 per gallon of regular unleaded in the same areas. The same prices were recorded during the last Petroleum Inspectorate review on Sept. 11. 

The disparity created some unusual situations among competing stations Thursday. For instance, in Bodden Town, Lorna’s Rubis advertised its regular unleaded price per gallon at $4.38 and its premium per gallon price at $4.94. Just down the street, Mostyn’s Esso advertised $4.69 a gallon for regular, unleaded – 31 cents higher than Lorna’s. However, its premium price was $4.79 per gallon – 15 cents lower. 

The two stations are about 1,000 yards away from one another. 

In George Town, the Esso station at the corner of North Sound and Shedden roads on Thursday was selling regular unleaded for $4.69 per gallon, and the Rubis – about 1,500 yards away – was selling it for $4.36. 

Cayman’s retail fuel prices have remained stubbornly high since early July. Records kept by the Petroleum Inspectorate indicated the average price for a gallon of regular, full-service gasoline was $4.71 at that date. By late August the average remained virtually the same. 

It was not until this week that customers at Rubis stations began seeing some significant relief at the pump. 

Sol/Esso representatives were contacted about the variance in fuel prices but had not responded by press time Thursday. 

Both petrol distributors have noted that they typically receive fuel shipments about every three to four weeks and that cargo may have been 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. 

Meanwhile, both U.S. and worldwide petrol price benchmarks continued to fall steadily, according to industry officials. 

The American Automobile Association put the average price per gallon for regular, unleaded gasoline at US$2.29 per gallon. That’s down about 10 cents from the beginning of this month and down nearly 50 cents per gallon since early July. 

The Nasdaq stock exchange listed Brent crude prices on Thursday at US$48.25 per barrel. The same price was recorded in early September, but Brent crude remains down significantly from early July, when it was at US$65 per barrel. 

Cayman’s 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. That legislation is now expected to be presented to the Legislative Assembly in November. 

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 Shedden Road Rubis (along with Jose’s Rubis) had the lowest gas prices on Grand Cayman as of Thursday. Just down the road, the price per gallon was 33 cents higher. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

The Shedden Road Rubis (along with Jose’s Rubis) had the lowest gas prices on Grand Cayman as of Thursday. Just down the road, the price per gallon was 33 cents higher. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay
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  1. Local Gasoline fuel prices in the Cayman Islands are priced on which way the wind is blowing. Must be! As they certainly have no relationship to real market gasoline prices.
    They are not justified and are darn right unreasonable!

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  2. I have said this before and I will say it again…. Until we have complete transparency nothing will change for the better in the Cayman Islands.

    If the price of fuel in Cayman is dictated by the price of the product when it was loaded on the supply ship then we have some very bad luck in the Cayman Islands as it would appear the there is always a ship departing from the loading port right after a price increase but never right after a price decrease.

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  3. @ George and Mike, as long as these gasoline pumps are on and pumping gas there would be nothing done about the prices by anyone who can. So maybe we should all take a other approach to fixing the problem.

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  4. The only rational answer to these price issues I believe, seems to be that the gas companies are large contributors to political campaigns.

    Gas around the world is at its lowest 10 years. Bulk fuels out of Houston are less than US$1.00 per gallon.

    But our prices do not budge…..oh and what about the CUC? Shouldn’t our electric rates be dropping?

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  5. Here is some simple math.
    In Jamaica a reasonable comparison yes?
    Gas is $.975USD a litre x 4.546 (Imperial gallon) = $4.432 USD/gallon x .82 = $3.634 CI

    We are paying $1.00 CI more!!!… Why??

    We pay the most for our gas in the Caribbean!!

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  6. @Mike Carp:

    It is my belief that we are paying for fuel what some people think we should be paying for fuel. It is as simple as that.

    The problem extends beyond fuel as you have companies that have essentially outsourced their local operation but at the same time are still selling their products and services at prices that have the country in a position where we are no more competitive than before.

    Greed and unethical conduct were at the core of the recent financial crisis and the reality is that no lessons have been learned and nothing has changed.

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  7. These comments are all well justified. The local distributors have always run a cartel as they know full well they have us over a barrel (oil barrel in this case). I notice that Rubis is now sporting a brand new fuel delivery truck (Lexus model) courtesy no doubt of their high octane profits extorted out of the poor consumer.

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  8. And how much of this high price and the CUC power bill is a hidden tax paid to the CIG? I think we might find that this is why no one is putting pressure on the companies to lower their prices!

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