Just a month before the CNMI government goes into austerity, the CNMI saw its first gas price rollback of 2020, with prices dropping at both Mobil Oil Marianas Inc. and Shell Marianas earlier this month.
Mobil gas stations took the lead, dropping its gas prices by 10 cents on Feb. 5. Shell followed suit shortly after. Both companies raise or lower their gas prices without prior notice but they typically mirror each other’s price adjustments.
As of Feb. 5, Mobil Oil Mariana Islands Inc. and Mariana Acquisition Corp., which owns Shell Marianas, reduced gas prices from $4.139 per gallon of Extra fuel to $4.039 per gallon while their Supreme fuel price went down from $4.589 a gallon to $4.489. Diesel fuel prices also saw a 10-cent decrease, from $4.519 per gallon to $4.419 per gallon.
According to an individual who requested anonymity, he was only aware that gas prices had been lowered last Tuesday, nearly a week after.
“I honestly didn’t know about the gas price adjustments until I was told about it last Tuesday. However, there really isn’t anything we can do to bargain for lower fuel prices on island,” he said.
Taking into consideration the islands’ current economic state as a result of losing tourists to the novel coronavirus outbreak, he said it would benefit him and other members of the community.
“However, I do suspect a very minute benefit in lowering the gas prices—maybe [I can] squeeze in one more trip to Garapan from my house in Gualo Rai with the new gas prices,” he said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, the Torres-Palacios administration announced on Feb. 7 another round of austerity measures that will cut the regular 80 work hours of government employees to 64 hours, starting on March 15. The move blames the coronavirus outbreak and the residual effects of Super Typhoon Yutu.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said this coronavirus outbreak has essentially brought the CNMI’s tourism industry to a standstill for an undetermined period, causing a severe disruption in revenue and affecting many CNMI businesses and residents.