If you've been following the news, you've probably heard that gas prices have fallen quite a bit in the last week or so. President Obama let out some of the national oil reserves in an attempt to bring prices down. But I'm not here to discuss the should he/shouldn't he. This is about gas prices themselves.
The local Wal-Mart/Murphy USA near my apartment has come down to $3.219 for Regular Unleaded, after having been sitting at $3.329 for several days. It didn't happen ovenight, though: the independent station across the street (Joey's) went down first, then Murphy followed by going one cent lower that the competition. Then Joey's went down 2 cents, then Murphy went down 2 cents. So we had a little gas war going for a couple days. However the local Shell stations are sitting at $3.329. No one can tell me why except that's the price they were told to charge. So is Murphy cutting their throat at $3.21 or is Shell gouging their customers at $3.32? For the sake of comparison, Mr Jiff is $3.199 Cash Only.
In Ohio, gas has been as low as $3.299 this week, but is on its way up to around $3.459. Reason? According to Gas Buddy, there has been a refinery shutdown... just as prices were coming down. Coincidence? Maybe, but I doubt it. Chicago has the same problem: every time gas prices start to decline, there's a problem at one of the refineries and prices spike back up. Meanwhile, the oil companies are reporting record profits (again).
Prices may be low now, but I predict they won't last long. There will be a refinery shutdown or a pipeline break or OPEC will suddenly cut production... or some other excuse. The oil companies own us. No matter what happens, we're owned by the oil companies. No matter how low prices may go, they will always find a way to screw the public to fatten their bottom line.