Per gallon prices for regular, unleaded gasoline fell below $4 per gallon this week at some George Town petrol stations.
Jose’s Rubis displayed full serve prices for a gallon of regular, unleaded fuel at $3.95, while Maedac Rubis displayed full serve prices for the same fuel at $3.97 per gallon on Wednesday.
It was the first time any local fuel stations had displayed per gallon prices below $4 per gallon since March 2015, which was previously the lowest point local fuel prices had reached in at least two years.
However, there was reason to believe local fuel prices could be falling further in the new year, based on international benchmarks.
As of Dec. 21, average national retail prices for unleaded gasoline in the U.S. fell below US$2 per gallon for the first time in more than six years. By Wednesday, that price had edged up slightly to just above US$2.
The American Automobile Association reported this week that more than two-thirds of U.S. petrol stations are now selling gas under $2 per gallon and that drivers in 47 of the 50 states had been able to find at least one retail station selling gas below US$2 per gallon.
Internationally, Brent crude oil prices fell below US$36 per barrel on Tuesday of this week, that benchmark’s lowest level since July 2004.
U.S. crude oil future costs were slightly higher than Brent crude, but still remained around an 11-year low.
Since hitting the March low, Cayman’s petrol prices have fluctuated significantly, going up by an average 55 cents per gallon as of mid-July and then falling gradually between September-November.
While pump prices were falling in the latter part of the year, legislation requiring Cayman’s two major fuel distributors to reveal specific price information on gasoline and diesel shipments was approved.
The Dangerous Substances Handling and Storage (Amendment) Law, 2015, requires the Cayman Islands chief petroleum inspector to collect and analyze information on fuel prices and pricing methods from importers – Sol Petroleum and Rubis – and provide that information to the government minister responsible for the petroleum inspectorate.
Upon request, the importers are required to provide fuel pricing information including: initial costs, cost of freight, insurance and brokerage fee, customs duties, estimates of fuel in stock and the amount and type of fuel to be imported in the next shipment.
Refusal to disclose that information upon request, or to provide false information, can lead to a maximum $250,000 fine upon conviction, according to the law.
“The government has run out of patience with trying to negotiate some sense of reasonableness with the fuel distributors,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said in October. “We believe that … they collaborate about fixing prices. We are not going to let the current free-for-all with fuel prices remain.”