Gas below $3 at some Oahu outlets, but still highest in country

Gas below $3 at some Oahu outlets, but still highest in country
Published: Dec. 12, 2014 at 9:09 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2014 at 1:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Even though gas prices have sunk below $3 at some locations on Oahu for the first time in seven years, the average gas price in Hawaii is still the highest in the country.

Hawaii News Now found the lowest-priced gas at Costco in Iwilei Friday, at $2.99 a gallon.

At other gas stations, it's less than $3.50 for the first time in years, such as $3.49 at a Kalihi Tesoro station.

"So it's really good to have them coming down. I'd like to see them going down to 2 bucks," said Jean Mooney of Makiki, as she stopped at a Nuuanu service station.

Ashley Kamalani-Andaya of Waimanalo, who was filling up her car at a gas station Friday afternoon said, "I think it's great because I can actually put more money in to my gas. And it's a lot more convenient, especially around the holiday season."

Barney Robinson owns Chevron stations in Nuuanu and Waialae. Hawaii News Now asked him why Hawaii gas prices are still so high compared to the mainland, and why they haven't fallen faster.

"It is a volume business and Hawaii has a relatively low volume with a high cost of doing business," Robinson said.

Robinson said about 400 million gallons of gas is sold in Hawaii each year, a tiny amount compared to one billion gallons of gas sold in California in just one month.

"Our land costs, our business costs, our rent costs, our utility, everything is high, but we have a relatively lower volume to spread those costs out over," Robinson said.

Some of the lowest gas prices in the country are in Oklahoma City, where people are already paying less than two dollars per gallon.

Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas have the lowest average gas prices this week, averaging between $2.32 and $2.38 a gallon. The national average is $2.60.

Hawaii has the highest average price of $3.75 a gallon. Alaska, New York and Hawaii are the only three states where the average price is more than $3 a gallon.

Robinson said another reason for Hawaii's high cost of gas is that motorists pay some of the highest gas taxes in the country: About 70 cents a gallon.

"Right now we're at about $3.50 or $3.60 a gallon right now, so 70 cents, you're looking at about 25 percent of it is for taxes," Robinson said.

Another reason prices haven't come down as quickly is that it takes a long time for crude oil to get here by ship, compared to mainland locations, Robinson said. So Hawaii is still burning through older, more expensive crude while the cheaper stuff is on its way in and mainland markets already have access to it, he said.

Robinson said the lower prices now mean that "People are not buying more gas, but they're spending less on their energy needs, their gasoline needs. So it means they have a little bit more money for their holiday needs."

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