10 cent hike noted in local gas prices

A one-week average hike of about 10 cents per gallon for unleaded gasoline was reported in the first week of April by Cayman’s utilities and commodities regulator.

OfReg, which has taken over the weekly monitoring of petroleum prices from the former Petroleum Inspectorate, reported the average price hike of 9 cents per gallon of regular unleaded and 10 cents per imperial gallon for premium. The prices for regular gasoline rose from an average of $4.43 as of March 31 to $4.52 by April 7.

Diesel prices increased, but not as much, during the same period, going up by an average of 3 cents per gallon, OfReg reported.

Petrol prices have held largely steady since the beginning of 2018, with most local gas stations keeping roughly the same prices since Jan. 2, according to OfReg data.

As of April 10, increases at Grand Cayman petrol stations varied, with four Esso stations in George Town reporting a 20 cent per gallon price hike since April 3, while other stations had not increased their prices at all from week to week.

For Rubis, six patrol stations in George Town and Savannah reported price increases of between 10 to 15 cents a gallon for regular and premium gas. Some of the Rubis stations did not report a price increase for April 10 either.

Cayman has yet to see a return to more than $5-per-gallon pump prices that were recorded in mid-to-late 2014, when average prices for regular, unleaded gasoline reached $5.59 per gallon. Prices then plummeted to below $4 per gallon at some stations in early 2015 as world oil prices declined.

A political dispute over high petrol prices during late 2014 and 2015 led to wholesale changes in how the Cayman fuel market is governed, including the introduction of OfReg and new requirements for price reporting for Cayman’s two main fuel distributors.

In the U.S., prices at the pump have risen steadily since the beginning of the year, going from an average of US$2.53 (CI$2.08) per U.S. gallon (.83 imperial gallon) for regular unleaded last month to US$2.71 average as of Monday – a 7 percent one-month increase. The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes average per gallon prices during the summer holiday period are expected to rise to around US$2.74 per U.S. gallon.

Internationally, prices per barrel of Brent crude – a key international benchmark for oil prices – have risen steadily since July 2017, going from US$46 per barrel to US$69 per barrel in January 2018. Average Brent crude prices were US$66 per barrel in March.

Cayman’s fuel distributors have long argued that comparisons between the American fuel market and prices here in Cayman are unfair.

“The USA is a macro market with totally different supply logistics, vast fuel resources, huge fuel storage capacity, a network of pipelines from the refineries to the distribution points, and trucking fleets which deliver fuel 24 hours per day, 365 days per year,” said Alan Neesome of Sol Petroleum, which supplies the local Esso stations. “The USA’s scale of operations provides efficiencies in fuel distribution that Cayman does not obtain as we have much higher unit infrastructural and operational costs, which result in higher prices to consumers than in the U.S.”