Gas prices are creeping higher, a spring ritual according to officials. There is some talk of gas reaching $4 and even $5 per gallon this summer.
New Mexicans are paying 7 cents more per gallon this week than last — an average of $3.36 per gallon on Thursday — and 20 cents per gallon more than this time last year.
Rising gas prices are causing some local residents to cut back on fuel consumption and are already impacting some local businesses. Projections of rising pump prices have others anticipating a trickle down effect, while some seem determined to suck it up and carry on as usual.
AAA public affairs official Sarah Schimmer expects gas prices to continue to rise through the summer, as spring break and vacation travelers place greater demands on fuel supplies.
Schimmer said prices are also impacted this time of year when oil refineries nationwide schedule routine annual maintenance, which cuts back production.
Despite the recent price spike, New Mexico gas prices are 25 cents less than the national average and the state has some of the lowest gas prices in the country, Schimmer said.
New Mexico’s lower prices are due to its dependence on inland fuel sources, which are cheaper per barrel than offshore sources, according to Schimmer.
“Oil is a global commodity with many global variables,” Schimmer said. “When supply is disrupted or threatened it impacts prices.” Schimmer cited conflict between the U.S., Europe and Iran over the Strait of Hormuz as a global factor in rising prices. Closing of the Strait would disrupt oil shipments to China, India and parts of Europe, placing greater demand on other sources and increasing prices, according to Schimmer.
Local businesses weigh in
“Transportation is involved in everything you see, touch, taste or smell,” Southwest Cheese official Robert Webb said Wednesday. Webb said rising fuel prices drive up the cost of utilities, materials and maintenance supplies, causing vendors to raise their prices, which are passed on to consumers. “It’s all interrelated,” Webb said.
R.A.C. Transportation manager Vernon Duncan said the trucking industry sees an immediate impact from rising fuel prices. When prices go up fuel surcharges increase, costing customers more to ship products. Duncan said one way to keep surcharges down is to cut down on runs. “If we normally run three loads a week, we might cut back to two,” Duncan said, noting that cut backs affect customer delivery schedules. “It also affects raises,” Duncan said. “You can’t afford to give out raises when you’re paying for fuel.”
“At this time we haven’t seen any prices go up,” manager of S&S Supermarket Tommy Firestone said. Firestone said when manufacturers start charging more to cover fuel costs, grocery prices will go up.
“That doesn’t mean the store is making more money,” Firestone said. “The percentage of profit the store makes stays the same. The price increase goes to pay increased manufacturing costs.”
Clovis Area Transit System official Mitzi Barrows said, “We’re anticipating and increase in riders.” Barrows said ridership increased in 2008 when gas prices soared. Barrows said transit fare will not increase because the program is federally funded.
What they’re saying
It took $81 to fill up Thiel’s Dodge Ram 1500 Thursday. Thiel, who is retiring from the military soon, said he has cut back on driving lately.
“I’m pretty serious about cutting back on fuel use. I bought a motorcycle to drive when it’s not too windy.”
“I came here (to the gas station) to top off before gas goes up again. It’s ridiculous. I think it has a lot to do with speculation over Iran. Let’s quit speculating and wait until something happens.”
King drives a Dodge diesel but is considering driving his Volkswagon to North Carolina later this year to combat gas prices.
“ I actually think it’s really cheap. When I left California in November gas was $4.25 a gallon. When I got here it only took $50 to fill up my jeep. I was doing the happy dance.”
Glock said before her husband transferred to Cannon Air Force Base, the couple cut back to one car in an effort to combat high fuel prices in California. “It’s all relative.”
Gump moved to Clovis from Hawaii seven months ago.
“It’s high, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not as high as I’m used to.” She said fuel prices on the Hawaiian islands have been well over $4 and even $5 for a while. She spent $46 for a half tank of fuel for her Suburban.
“I have four kids. I just have to suck it up and keep going.”