“I went to my regular station and it was $3.49 a gallon so why not get it here for $3.24 a gallon?” Mary Jean Krassick, Ford River, said. “I have been sitting in line for 10 minutes now; that’s some kind of record. You can’t afford to go anywhere — just work and home.”
Tuesday afternoon, a few Escanaba area stations were selling gasoline in the $3.24 per gallon range, while other stations raised prices to $3.49 per gallon. By Tuesday night, however, the low prices were gone and local stations were charging $3.49 or slightly less for a gallon of regular gasoline.
On Tuesday, the average price of a gallon of gas in California stood at $3.581 a gallon. Light sweet crude for April delivery surged to a new record of $109.72 on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday before falling after the International Energy Agency cut its forecasts for crude consumption this year.
In midday trading, crude futures fluctuated, rising 23 cents to $108.13 a barrel but alternating between gains and losses.
As a result, gasoline prices rose.
Escanaba resident Marie LaMarche was not happy to see the price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline increase on Tuesday.
“It’s not funny,” said LaMarche while waiting to fill up at $3.24 a gallon for unleaded fuel. “It was $3.49 a gallon on Lincoln Road and is $3.24 here. This is where I come anyway.”
Mobil store Manager Eva Casperson and store employee Beth Heiden fill gas tanks and wash windows at Mobil everyday.
The two women were quite busy on Tuesday afternoon when motorists waited in line to get fuel at what they thought was a bargain.
“We don’t usually raise until everyone else goes up,” Heiden said. “Obviously, people are paying attention, reading newspapers and listening to the radio. They are rushing to pay.”
The price of an unleaded gallon of gasoline at Citgo was $3.49 and at Admiral and Holiday Station Store was $3.21. Holiday had been $3.49 a gallon for unleaded early Tuesday afternoon.
“Who knows where it will be tomorrow,” Casperson said Tuesday afternoon.
Mark Patrick, Bark River, was filling up with diesel fuel at $3.28 a gallon on Tuesday.
“But it is still an awful lot since I’m trying to make a living farming. This will put a lot of farmers out of business,” Patrick said. “When I come to town, I save 20 cents a gallon than having it delivered for $3.45 a gallon. It kind of helps out. It is really tough and hard on tractors. I really hope fuel don’t hit $4 a gallon.”
Where oil goes from here is anybody’s guess. Many analysts expect prices to moderate, while others predict oil could keep rising to $120 a barrel, or higher. And with demand for gas expected to rise as warm weather arrives, analysts say pump prices will likely spike as high as $3.50 to $3.75 a gallon, regardless of what happens with oil prices.
“It’s freakin’ high,” Philip Wilkins, Escanaba, said while filling up at $3.21 a gallon for unleaded at Holiday Tuesday afternoon. “You’re going to see more and more people pulling in.”
“I think it’s a little bit too high. I don’t like paying them,” Kathy Johnson, Rock, said. “It’s ridiculous.”
The effect can be seen in states such as California, where prices are consistently 30 cents higher than the national average. Last November, the latest month for which data is available, demand for gasoline fell by 3.7 percent from the previous year in California as prices soared past $3.40 a gallon.
LaMarche said her son told her gas prices in California are $3.60 a gallon.
“Not funny,” she said.
Krassick said despite the price of gasoline there is wonderful service at Mobil.
“They fill for you and wash windows,” she said.
Still, because gas is so expensive, analysts expect demand for fuel will rise more slowly this spring and summer than in previous years. Nationwide demand for gasoline is off by about 1 percent over the last six weeks, a trend analysts expect to accelerate if prices keep rising.
Residents lined up to fill gas tanks Tuesday afternoon in Escanaba when Admiral and Mobil gas stations were still selling gas for $3.21 and $3.24 per gallon respectively, while other stores had already hiked their prices to $3.49, like Holiday Stationstore on Lincoln Road. (Daily Press photo by Audrey LaFave)