Colorado hits another gas-price record
August 15, 2005
Gas prices in Colorado continue to break records this summer, with the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded hitting $2.45, and some Roaring Fork Valley stations topping the $3 mark for higher grades.At the Aspen Village Phillips 66 station, for example, premium unleaded was $3.19 per gallon Monday; regular and plus unleaded were $2.99 and $3.09, respectively. The Conoco station at Willits charged $3.02 for premium unleaded along with $2.82 for regular unleaded and $2.92 for mid-grade.The Amoco/bp station a mile or so down the road also came close to cracking the $3 barrier. It charged $2.99 for premium unleaded.Elsewhere in Basalt and El Jebel, the 7-Eleven store was charging the least for gas, at $2.71 for regular unleaded. It also charged $2.81 for mid-grade and $2.92 for premium.Downtown Aspen’s two gas stations hadn’t quite breached the $3 per gallon mark Monday. At the Amoco/bp on Main Street, premium unleaded was $2.97, mid-grade was $2.92 and regular unleaded gas was $2.85. The top price at the Shell station at The Aspen Store was $2.99 a gallon.Credit card sales tracked at pumps across the state by AAA Colorado show average prices across the state ranging from $2.43 in Akron and $2.37 in Denver.While those local prices reflect some hikes over the weekend, the statewide average price of $2.45 is based on sales on Friday, so it’s possible the average could rise further. The new statewide average will be reported today.AAA spokeswoman Mary Greer said she noticed prices at some metro area stations had gone up by about 10 cents over the weekend.Colorado’s current average price is about 13 cents higher than last Wednesday’s record-setting average price of $2.319 a gallon and 55 cents above the average price of $1.90 a year ago.With crude oil prices rising, records haven’t been lasting very long this summer. Monday’s high marked the third record-breaking period for gas prices in Colorado, Greer said.The national average price is $2.48, according to AAA, which tracks prices at 60,000 gas stations. Another national report, the Lundberg Survey, which checks sales at 7,000 stations, reported Monday that the average national price for the three grades of gasoline rose nearly 20 cents to $2.53 through Friday.Rising gas prices led Denver’s Speedy Messenger and Delivery Service to impose its first fuel surcharge last year – 5 percent of the delivery cost. It was increased to 7.5 percent about three months ago, and another hike could be possible if prices don’t level off, operations manager Bill McMullen said. Business hasn’t dropped off, and most people, stuck with paying more at the pump themselves, are understanding, he said.”As soon as you say gas surcharge, no one says ‘What’s that?'” McMullen said.He wondered if business might end up increasing if employees opt to call a messenger service more often because they don’t want to spend their own money on gas to take a package across town.Gas prices usually rise each spring because of speculation about how much gas will be needed to meet demand during the busy summer driving season and drop by up to 30 percent after Labor Day, Greer said. But this year the climb began in February, instead of March or April, and Colorado broke its first record of the year in April with an average price of $2.21.On July 15, the record was broken again with an average price of $2.30. That held until last week, when the price edged up to $2.304 on Aug. 8 before hitting $2.319 on Wednesday.Last year, the state hit a high of $2.03 right before Memorial Day but by mid-August prices were down to an average of $1.90. After Labor Day it was down to $1.87 and $1.80 by the end of the year.”Hopefully after we get to Labor Day, prices will start to drop,” Greer said.Crude oil prices are up because of growing demand around the world, including China and Japan, and because refineries already at capacity have had to shut down for unplanned maintenance or hurricanes, she said.Drivers at Speedy talk about gas prices every day, with some conversations drifting into Middle East politics, and they trade tips on the cheapest places to fill up. Everyone, except the messenger who drives a Toyota Prius hybrid, is frustrated, but they end up just shaking their heads.”They don’t like what’s going on, but no one has a solution for what’s going on,” McMullen said.The Aspen Times contributed to this report.