Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hawaii Gas Prices Retreat from Record Highs

All three “metro areas” in Hawaii have lower average prices for a gallon of regular gas today than yesterday, so the much-publicized sudden downturn in oil prices last week has produced the anticipated result here.

The all-time record in Wailuku, Maui was set just yesterday at $4.987, nearly 3 cents more than today's average. We’re speculating, but that probably is the all-time record for a metro area in the United States as well. The closest we could find in a quick review of the AAA site is $4.814 in Juneau, Alaska in 2008.

Maybe the lever pullers behind Hawaii’s “Curtain of Aloha” just couldn’t bear to see gas go to $5 per gallon and pulled back in their unseen and mysterious ways. Statewide, the average price for regular gas today is $4.567, down from yesterday and nearly 3 cents below the record price of $4.594 reached last Friday.

Conspiracy theories aside, a better explanation is that the futures price for oil delivered in June fell 15 percent last week, but the price rose 5 percent yesterday and has risen again today. Consumers are left to guess, along with the experts, about what their pump prices will be this week, this summer, next year, etc. (The "screen shot" of this graph is already outdated 30 minutes after posting, with WTI crude priced at $103.77 at 9:02 am.)

One thread of current media wisdom as reported today in the Los Angeles Times is that prices will fall as much as 50 cents a gallon this summer. The same newspaper wrote only two weeks ago that the national average would continue to rise and could reach $4.25 by Memorial Day.

Mandatory observation in this rail-related blog: The higher the cost of driving one’s personal automobile, the more attractive public transit becomes. Long-term, that attraction will grow, a view with near-universal agreement.

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