Demand low; prices high

Published 10:13 am Monday, February 27, 2012

AHOSKIE – A local businessman says a refinery fire in the state of Washington will likely have no effect on gas prices in the Roanoke-Chowan region.

Michael Harrell, president of Jernigan Oil, said there were a lot of uncertainties about the future price of gas, but said expectations by a national organization that prices would rise five to 20 cents per gallon due to the fire were likely not true.

“That particular incident would not affect us locally,” Harrell said. “Unfortunately, there are so many other factors that are affecting overall prices.”

Harrell said the main things that were a concern as far as gas prices were the global situation in Iran and getting that country’s crude oil supply and the closing of several refineries on the eastern seaboard.

“It is definitely not supply and demand,” Harrell said. “In the United States in the last five of six weeks, you have to go back to 1999 to see demand levels as low as they are now. Demand is way down and you would think prices would go down, but right now it’s just the opposite.”

Wednesday afternoon senior analysts said prices could increase five to 20 cents per gallon by the end of the weekend because of the refinery situation.

According to the organization, there had already been spikes in pricing in California and throughout the west coast.

GasBuddy operates and over 250 similar websites that track gasoline prices at over 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. In addition, GasBuddy offers a free smartphone app which has been downloaded over 20 million times to help motorists find gasoline prices in their area.