By Howard Dicus
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The lowest gasoline prices in Hawaii, at discount stations on Oahu, are now over $4 a gallon, while gasoline is now selling for well over $5 a gallon on Molokai.
Hawaii residents generally have shorter commutes than mainlanders do, but they pay some of the highest per gallon gasoline prices in the nation, and here, as in the rest of the country, pump prices tend to follow crude oil price trends about 60 days behind.
The cheapest gas prices in the state, at Lex Brodie's Tire Co., hit $4 a gallon over the President's Day holiday weekend, while the AAA Fuel Gauge average price of Oahu regular topped $4.12 a gallon, up 18 cents in the past month.
That is also roughly how much the lower prices on the mainland have risen in the past month, although California prices have ascended at a much steeper rate, bringing the average prices in San Francisco close to parity with Honolulu.
AAA commissions its fuel price data from Washington D.C.-based Oil Price Information Service, which electronically harvests the last credit card transaction of the evening from thousands of selected self-serve stations across the United States.
In Hawaii, OPIS checks Honolulu ($4.122 Monday), Hilo ($4.445) and Wailuku ($4.432). Hilo, the county seat on the Big Island, is usually about a dime cheaper than Wailuku, the county seat on Maui, but Maui prices have risen only a nickel in the past month.
Hawaii gasoline comes from two refineries, both in Campbell Industrial Park in West Oahu, one owned by Tesoro Corp. and the other by Chevron Corp. Middlemen will occasionally bypass the refineries to order a tanker shipment of gasoline that has been refined someplace else.
Prices are higher in Hawaii because it is a small market with relatively little competition, because the refineries buy a higher grade of crude to more readily produce jet fuel, and because retailers have higher rent payments to make due to Hawaii's higher real estate values.