Mobil Oil Mariana Islands slashed once again its pump prices by 15 cents a gallon on regular and super unleaded gasoline and by 10 cents a gallon on diesel at 4pm yesterday, giving another reprieve to Saipan motorists reeling from work hour cuts and high costs of utilities, consumer goods, and services.
Total gas price reductions on Saipan now stand at 60 to 65 cents a gallon since May 8. The last price cut of 10 cents a gallon was seven days ago.
Regular unleaded gasoline at Mobil service stations on Saipan is now $4.509 a gallon, down from $4.659 a gallon because of the 15-cent cut.
Mobil's super unleaded gasoline is now $4.829, from the previous price of $4.979 a gallon.
Diesel at Mobil stations is now $4.919 a gallon, after a 10-cent cut.
As of early last night, Shell Marianas has yet to change its pump prices. Mobil and Shell have historically mirrored each other's prices changes, so Shell is expected to follow suit soon.
Ranjit Saha, a taxi driver since 2004, said it's a big relief that gas prices are continuing to go down, although the number of taxi customers is still low.
“We're not having a lot of customers so we spend less on fuel. Ideal situation would be if we have lots of taxi customers and low gas price,” Saha told Saipan Tribune.
To demonstrate how slow the current taxi business, he said he only spends $10 to $15 on gasoline a day because there's not much tourists to transport. He said he used to pump an average of $20 every day because he had lots of customers.
While yesterday's price cuts bring vehicle fuel prices on Saipan to below $5 a gallon, the CNMI-especially Rota-still has the dubious distinction of having the highest gas prices on American soil.
CNMI prices range from $4.509 to over $6 a gallon, but average price in the U.S. is $3.411 a gallon on regular gas on Sunday.
Rep. Stanley Torres (Ind-Saipan), chairman of the House Committee on Public Utilities, Transportation and Communications, said last night that Mobil “should have cut prices by 80 cents right off the bat in May and everybody would really be happy.”
“I think Mobil is stalling the price cuts, when they could bring it down once,” Torres said.
Torres also said all other goods and services relying on fuel should also start reducing their prices because fuel prices have been steadily dropping.
“[The Commonwealth Utilities Corp.] should on their own initiative cut power rates because fuel is down by over 60 cents since May,” he added.
Mobil earlier said that prices of gasoline are determined by a number of factors, including changes in the world market wholesale prices of gasoline, regional gasoline supply and demand balance, transportation costs, insurance, local distribution, marketing costs, government regulations, taxes, competitive market forces, and investments in retail stations and distribution terminals.
Oil fell to near $79 a barrel Monday in Asia as Europe's economic woes offset a supply disruption from a storm that shut down about a quarter of crude output in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Associated Press reports.
Crude has plunged from $106 less than two months ago amid signs of slowing economic growth and oil demand in the U.S., Europe, and China. Capital Economics said it expects Brent crude to fall to as low as $70 during the next 18 months.
“The main downside risk to oil prices comes from the crisis in the euro-zone, which we do expect to worsen,” Capital Economics said in a report. “However, after such precipitate declines in oil prices, it would not be surprising to see a small, albeit temporary, bounce.” (With reports from AP)