HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii motorists can remember 2015 as the year the islands no longer had the nation's highest per gallon prices for gasoline.
Gas remains expensive in remote locations with little competition for wholesale supply lines, but prices in the three Hawaii towns measured daily by AAA no longer top its rankings.
In Wailuku, Maui, AAA recorded an average price Tuesday of $3.39 per gallon. That compared to $3.43 in Santa Barbara, $3.47 in Los Angeles, $3.49 in Fairbanks, and $3.50 in Juneau.
Other cities still paying more than $3 for gasoline included San Francisco $3,27, Anchorage $3.23, Las Vegas $3.19, and Reno $3.01.
Seattle has fallen to $2.96, a penny more than the average price Hilo, while Sacramento is $2.92. Several other California cities are in this general range.
Honolulu average regular, now down to $2.87, is still a few pennies more than Chicago and New York, the most expensive cities east of the Mississippi.
The Costco in Iwilei was selling regular for $2.43 on Labor Day.
AAA says these are the lowest Labor Day gas prices nationwide since 2004. The nation collectively paid 99 cents a gallon less than a year ago, translating to a savings of $1 billion just over the long weekend.
GasBuddy.com says you shouldn't be surprised if prices fall another 80 cents by Christmas.
An AAA contractor electronically harvests the last credit card receipt of the night to get the raw data for its daily price averages in hundreds of U.S. cities.
Prices have been affected by refinery issues. A massive Exxon refinery in the Los Angeles area is operating below capacity during repairs following an explosion in the spring. A BP refinery outside Chicago is experiencing production challenges.
A more profound influence on prices has been soft global demand due to slowing growth in challenge, and strong production as a result of fracking in the U.S. Midwest.
OPEC member nations, who control about a third of global oil production, have been unable to reduce production to bolster prices, each one reluctant to give up the revenue or lose market share.
Saudi Arabia is selling bonds to raise cash for the first time in years, rather than tighten its belt and cut production. The Saudis led the way to reduced production in the past, only to have brother Arab states quietly pump more, reaping financial windfalls and leaving the Saudis hanging.
OPEC reportedly approached Russia about joining OPEC or at least working with the cxrtel on reducing production, but the Russians need the income and turned them down, news agencies reported Tuesday.
Hawaii has two small refineries, both in Kapolei, one operated by Chevron and the other, formerly Tesoro, now owned by Texas-based Par Petroleum.
Hawaii is a very small market and one without a great deal of competition, especially on middleman supply lines to neighbor islands. Gas stations also have relatively high rent payments here. Many stations only break even on fuel and make their money from their convenience store sales.
Sample AAA prices on Labor Day:
- Juneau $3.50.
- Fairbanks $3.49.
- Los Angeles $3.47.
- Santa Barbara $3.43.
- San Diego $3.40.
- Wailuku $3.39.
- San Francisco $3.27.
- Anchorage $3.23.
- Las Vegas 3.19.
- Reno $3.01.
- Seattle $2.96.
- Hilo $2.95.
- Sacramento $2.92.
- Honolulu $2.87.
- Chicago $2.84.
- New York $2.76.