Saipan gas prices hit a record high of $5.209 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline and $5.529 a gallon for premium unleaded gasoline, almost at par with the CNMI's minimum wage of $5.55 an hour.
Mobil Oil Mariana Islands increased its Saipan pump prices by 10 cents a gallon on Monday night, while Shell Marianas followed suit yesterday afternoon.
National media outlets are reporting that hedge funds, commodity pools and other high-roller investors have thrown close to $12.5 billion into a collective bet that gasoline prices will rise, and some analysts say it's one reason why gasoline prices are at a record for this date in the United States.
Diesel is now $5.519 a gallon on Saipan.
It was only two weeks ago when Mobil and Shell increased their pump prices by 10 cents, bringing to 20 cents the total increases since the start of 2013.
Emi Cruz, a taxi operator since 1996, said yesterday the 10-cent increase will be an added burden that residents don't have a control over. Her only hope is that she would get lots of customers for her business to stay afloat.
“There's nothing we can do, who are we going to complain to? I hope there will be more tourists so that taxis would have more customers,” Cruz said in an interview while she was filling up at the Mobil station in Garapan yesterday afternoon.
Mohammed Islam, a 39-year-old businessman, said his $20 gas only lasts a day, unlike a few years back when he could stretch it to about two days doing the same business.
“It's already hard for us, now it will be much harder with regular gas now $5.20 per gallon, and the economy is not good and prices are high,” Islam said in a separate interview at Mobil's filling station in Garapan.
Shell and Mobil do not issue advance notice of prices changes.
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.