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Price of gas is cheaper

Michael Schneider

In keeping with the national trend and also delighting many residents, the cost of fuel on the South Shore has dropped between a penny and a dime during the past month.

The average for all grades of the refined crude oil, including taxes, was $1.53, while the national average was considerably lower at $1.25 per gallon.

“Our prices have dropped a little bit in the last month,” said Ed Givant, owner/manager of Stop and Save on Highway 50. Givant said his price for 87-octane gasoline has dropped about 6 cents over the last 30 days.

Toward the state line, Unocal is selling gas for a nickel more than Stop and Save but a little less than what it was charging two weeks ago.

“We’ve got enough people in town to keep the volume up,” said Eric Mahan, Unocal’s station manager, who said his prices have dropped 10 cents in the past two weeks. “We got a 2-cent decrease from the gas company and we decided to eat the rest for the locals.”

“We went down 4 to 5 cents a gallon a week ago,” said Larry Benner, manager of the Beacon station on Highway 50.

Although Beacon is a major oil company, Benner said he can charge his customers less than larger companies like Shell, Chevron and Texaco, because Beacon doesn’t charge its outlets as much to use its name.

Givant said Texaco offered to let him use its name for Stop and Save, at an increased gas price, but he declined.

Beacon averaged about 10 cents a gallon less than the major oil companies, while the independents averaged only 1 or 2 cents less than Beacon.

But a customer gets a better quality gasoline when filling up with a major oil company, right?

Not according to Givant and Benner, who said local gas stations get their product from the same places as the big oil companies.

“It all comes from West Sacramento or Rancho Cordova,” said Benner. “It’s all out of the same rack. You can watch all the trucks line up.”

Givant said, with no independent oil company in California, the major oil distributors must give the gas wholesalers a market price. He said the only difference in the gasoline his station serves is that his gas is delivered in unmarked silver trucks, while the bigger companies have theirs delivered in trucks bearing their company’s emblem.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg told the Associated Press that gas prices have been falling for more than two months due to strong gasoline supplies and lower demand coupled with the end of the summer driving season.

Also, said Lundberg, crude oil prices have dropped a dollar per barrel, apparently unaffected by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s refusal to allow United Nations’ weapons inspectors into his country.

None of the local gas station managers were quick to predict if the decreasing trend will continue, or if prices again will rise to previous levels.


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