Why the disparity in gas prices? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Why the disparity in gas prices?

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

October 9, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The price of a gallon of gas in Georgia can range from $3.88 in Athens to a dollar less in Donalsonville at $2.89.

Many motorists are questioning the disparity. Even across the nation prices can differ from the cheapest average in Kansas at $3.03 for a gallon of unleaded to the highest average prices in North Carolina at $3.72 a gallon.

We posed the same question motorists are asking, why prices differ so much county to county... to station owners. They told us it depends on when they fill their tanks, who they're buying from, and where it originates.

Gas prices are falling across Georgia, but motorists want to know why they've fallen quicker in some places than others.

 "I wonder why we can jump around so much from one station, from one town to the other. I don't understand why there's such a big difference?" asked Becky Brown.

In Atlanta prices are as high as $3.72. Macon's a little cheaper at $3.59, and in southwest Georgia prices differ from Americus to Tifton to Valdosta, but how can it be so different?

"Right now you're getting gas where you can get it, you're pulling from wherever you can pull from and sometimes its not always the cheapest and sometimes you're in luck and it is the cheapest," says Woodall's Owner Wright Woodall. 

In Albany the EnMark was as low as $3.38 in Donalsonville prices are as low as $2.89 and $3.09, but owners call it an isolated competitive situation.

"Someone is really hurting for some volume and they do desperate things and when that happens they'll drop the price and we're letting them do that," Woodall said.

Prices can differ from state to state because of taxes. Along the coast and in Florida prices can be different because gasoline is brought in by barge instead of the pipeline. Prices also fluctuate during the day.

"Someone may pay a cheaper price this morning than someone else will pay from a different supplier from the pipeline this afternoon," Woodall said.

Right now, motorists say they're just happy to see the prices fall instead of climb.

"$3.43 caught my attention just that quick," says Harold Nelson.

 "The economy and the market the way it is people just can't afford to fill up paying these prices," Mike Collins says.

Some stations are still having a hard time getting premium grades. Some stations have been out of premium for over a week. They say that's because the concentration has been on producing enough unleaded gasoline to keep stations tanks full and end the shortage issue.

Station owners are quick not to predict how far prices may fall before they level off, but say because demand is down they expect the price per gallon to continue to drop.

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