DARKE COUNTY – Local gas station owners seem to agree that gas prices for 2013 are hard to pin down, and sometimes, they just plain don’t make sense.
“It has been a challenge for us. It’s up and down all the time, it almost seems like a game. It’s just crazy,” said Paula Moody, who owns Moody’s in Ansonia with her husband, Dennis. The couple purchased Moody’s about a year ago, they said, and it’s been a whole new experience, and is definitely keeping them busy.
The up and down of gas prices has been a challenge for many gas stations. According to GasBuddy.com’s 2013 forecast, prices will continue to be in the mid-$3 range, but going from a median low of $3.29 to a high of $3.95, with prices currently lower than any predictions made by the website.
“A good year for many of us will simply mean the absence of new record high gasoline prices” said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.
Josh Urlage, a manager at Sutton’s in Arcanum, said that they look at their fuel prices daily, making a determination, sometimes two or three times a day, as to what prices should be, and they try to remain consistent and competitive, he said.
“We’ve always tried our best to be consistent on our prices, we don’t like the big swings in prices,” Urlage commented. “We’ve been able to be very competitive throughout the entire time we’ve had our fuel center , with everyone in the region…” Urlage remarked.
GasBuddy.com is forecasting volatility for 2013, but that doesn’t come as a surprise, said fuel center owners.
“It’s very difficult to figure out why the prices are up and down. They change every day, I get a price every day,” said Dennis Moody. “Our fuel suppliers fax us copies of the market, and my salesman talks with me, and tries to lead me in the right direction, because he has more knowledge, insight and information coming in to him.”
According to GasBuddy.com’s 2013 forecast, prices are going to continue to stay in the mid-$3 range, with the highest forecast price topping out at a median of $3.95 per gallon around April, when refineries begin producing cleaner burning summer fuel.
Another volatile month may include August, when hurricane season hits, because “the fear of a storm impacts oil prices,” said GasBuddy.com.
Moody commented that storms seem like “just an excuse for them to make more money,” stating that oil companies have oil and gas set aside for disasters such as hurricanes, and there doesn’t seem to be a real cause for the increase in prices at those times.
GasBuddy.com said that any time there’s potential for the refinery to stop operating, there’s potential for gas prices to go up.
“Refinery issues from coast to coast illustrated our infrastructure vulnerability in 2012…In 2013 we’ll need to see improvements in addressing safety issues. We’ll also see whether refineries have sufficiently addressed the weaknesses that were exposed last year. A focus on safety and flexibility may help mitigate the spikes that are inevitable during the spring transition from winter blend gasoline to summer blend production,” said the GasBuddy.com report.
“The saying goes that all you can be sure of in life is death and taxes. I’d add the seasonal run-up in gas prices every spring as something I’m sure of in life,” stated Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.
Urlage also reported that credit card fees, higher for fuel centers than other retailers, will continue to be a concern. Credit card fees continue to accumulate, Urlage said, as does theft, which is always a possibility when operating a fuel center.