One way or another, Hawaii drivers have been shocked recently by the price of gasoline as government orders to stay at home in the fight against COVID-19 have contributed to a gas supply-and- demand imbalance.
Some drivers are surprised that gasoline is cheaper than a few weeks ago.
And some drivers are surprised that gas prices haven’t fallen much more.
The average price per gallon statewide, according to the most recent weekly report from AAA Hawaii, was $3.31 Thursday. That’s 22 cents less than the year-ago price and 20 cents cheaper than the price a few days before a statewide stay-at-home order was announced March 23.
So drivers are benefiting from a 6% decrease, and saving $2 to fill a 10-gallon tank.
“It’s a bit surprising gas prices are what they are considering the price of oil,” David O’Brien said Friday as he filled up his Toyota Prius at a Honolulu Texaco station, where the price was $3.39 a gallon for regular gas. “Somebody’s making a lot of money.”
The price for West Texas Intermediate crude was $22.76 Thursday, down from about $64 a year ago.
Richard Coloma, who was filling his minivan at a Honolulu Aloha Petroleum station where regular gas was $3.13 Friday, said he wished gas was $1.73 a gallon like it is where his granddaughter lives in Texas. “I hope down here it could be like that,” he said.
The 4-cent decline last week from the week before in Hawaii was in line with a 4-cent drop nationally where the average price Thursday was $1.88 per gallon. However, the national price Thursday was 88 cents less than its year-ago price of $2.76.
Hawaii’s average gas price didn’t fall below year-earlier levels until after March 26, according to AAA Hawaii.
Being located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean means Hawaii has long been disconnected from changes in mainland gas prices, with prices locally tending to fall slower than on the mainland in part because of more limited driving here and the need to ship oil for gas production.
Florida-based AAA noted that a Thursday announcement about a tentative oil production reduction agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major crude oil producers including Russia could cut global crude output by 10 million barrels a day during May and June.
OPEC producers and allies agreed to the deal on Sunday.
The reduction in output could keep retail gas prices up, though AAA said market observers are skeptical of the cuts taking place and are unsure whether they are drastic enough to help prop up prices.
Liane Sumida, AAA Hawaii general manager, noted in the gas price report Thursday that the rate of Hawaii gas price decreases has been slowing recently. But she said prices should keep going down as inventory continues to increase globally even with production drops.
Some Hawaii drivers were just grateful that there has been any drop in gas prices.
Kaeo Lacanilao said he couldn’t recall the price for premium gas in Hawaii ever going below $3.80 a gallon. On Friday he pumped it into his Subaru WRX for $3.79 a gallon.
Chad Burgher, who hasn’t worked his hotel job in nearly a month, said he assumed gas prices would go down more but that the price decline isn’t much of an issue in context of economic and health hardships from COVID-19.
“It doesn’t really matter because we’re not driving,” he said.
FILL HER UP
Average prices for regular gas by local market on Thursday:
>> Statewide — $3.31 — 3 cents lower than a week ago, 23 cents lower than a month ago and 22 cents less than a year ago
>> Honolulu — $3.16 — 4 cents lower than a week ago, 25 cents lower than a month ago and 24 cents less than a year ago
>> Hilo — $3.47 — 3 cents lower than a week ago, 22 cents lower than a month ago and 15 cents lower than a year ago
>> Kahului — $3.57 — 1 cent lower than a week ago, 17 cents lower than a month ago and 15 cents lower than a year ago
>> Lihue — $3.59 — 2 cents lower than a week ago, 26 cents lower than a month ago and 15 cents lower than a year ago
Source AAA Hawaii