August 2, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 31

Gas prices dip after delivery

After edging toward $5 per gallon, the local price of unleaded gasoline dropped last week about 25 cents. It was selling at between $4.66 and $4.72 at area stations this week, with diesel ranging from $4.81 to $4.94.

The previous price for diesel was $5.20 or more for several months and unleaded was $4.96.

Fred Gray, representative for Delta Western, the town’s lone fuel distributor, said the drop reflects a similar drop in prices in the Pacific Northwest, the source of local fuel.

The national average price for fuel dropped 30 to 35 cents at one point in late spring, but has since gone up, Gray said. That the price of fuel in Haines is dropping now reflects a lag due to shipping and the amount of time it takes to consume fuel bought at higher prices, Gray said.

A fire at a refinery in Anacortes, Wash. helped push prices up earlier this year, Gray said. “Our fuel came from other refineries in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, but it was more expensive,” he said.

The recent reduction reflects healthy refineries and lower prices for foreign and domestic crude, Gray said.

Gray said he doesn’t keep figures for local fuel consumption but said he believed that has stayed about the same.

Haines prices compared to $4.60 per gallon for unleaded this week in Skagway, $4.19 in Tok, $4.23 in Ketchikan, $4.79 in Cordova and between $4.28 and $4.43 in Juneau. In Anchorage, unleaded prices range between $3.75 and $3.81, according to alaskagasprices.com.

The national average this week for unleaded was $3.53, according to the website.

The drop in local prices was long coming, some residents said this week. “We went all summer at $4.96. Everybody else went down, but not here,” said Duck Hess.

Hess questioned how prices could be cheaper at area gas stations that buy from Delta Western than at the Tesoro station in Haines operated by Delta Western. He also questioned how it’s less expensive in Tok than it is in Haines. “They’ll say it’s volume. I’m sure that’s right, but I still can’t believe it’s that high.”

Delta Western’s Gray said he was prohibited by law from commenting on gas prices in other towns. He said the company stopped shipments of fuel to northern locations in Alaska after the Haines Borough increased Lutak Dock fees. The company only ships aviation fuel north to Whitehorse, Y.T., he said.