Gas goes up in G’wood
The average price of gas in Glenwood Springs was almost 4 cents higher on Monday than it was on Sunday, according to the American Automobile Association. And about 22 cents higher than it was in Denver.”Right now I would tell people to probably be prepared for increases,” said Alexa Gromko, the spokeswoman for AAA Colorado.Gromko said Colorado is usually well below the national average for gas prices. On Monday, the state was almost even with the country. The average across the country Monday was $2.50. It was $2.485 in Colorado and $2.682 in Glenwood Springs.”Typically you guys are always higher over there,” Gromko said. “That’s because you’re in the mountains.”Gromko theorized that skier traffic drives up demand during the winter and that makes prices higher in the winter than they are in the summer. She said prices become more comparable in the summer, when tourists converge on the Front Range cities.
“The first answer is that Garfield County is as far away from any terminal as you can get,” said Stan Dempsy, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, which represents oil and gas companies, distributors, refineries and convenient stores. “You’re paying for transportation costs.”Dempsy said fuel can come from Denver, Salt Lake, Wyoming or Grand Junction. No matter where it comes from, Garfield County is not close.Roy Turner, the executive vice president of Colorado/Wyoming Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, a similar organization to Dempsy’s, said transportation is a key issue.He said gas that’s shipped from Denver runs into difficulties at Eisenhower Tunnel, because tankers cannot access the tunnel and have to go over Loveland Pass, which is treacherous and sometimes closes during bad winter weather.”There were three accidents up there this year,” Turner said. “Companies are having trouble retaining drivers.”
Turner said gas prices in Summit County aren’t affected the same way as those on the Western Slope, in Vail and Glenwood Springs, because there is too much competition there.Prices in Grand Junction, which is even farther from Denver, a main gasoline supplier, are much lower than they are in Garfield and Eagle counties.That’s because there is a rail terminal that delivers fuel to Grand Junction for Phillips 66 and the parent company of Diamond Shamrock, Valero. The rest of the gas retailers in Grand Junction are keeping prices low to compete with those two companies, Turner said.”Every community has a different market,” Dempsy said. “Competition can have a big impact on prices.”Dempsy said there is another reason costs could be lower in Grand Junction. While there isn’t a functioning refinery there, Colorado Fuel Management creates gasoline using different methods. Dempsy said the company even buys natural gas from drilling companies in Garfield County to process his crude oil and turn it into gasoline.
One of the biggest reasons fuel costs in Colorado are higher than they have been is that the state’s only refinery, which is in Denver and is owned by Suncor Energy, is running at 1/3 of its capacity, Dempsy said.That refinery, which usually supplies about 40 percent of the state’s gas, has shut down a lot of production capability in order to make necessary upgrades and improvements, many of which are required by state and federal law, Dempsy said. A representative from Suncor could not be reached at press time.While gas futures dropped on the trading floor in New York on Monday, the contract price for crude oil in May is still almost $2 higher than the April contract.”Analysts say to brace for increases,” Gromko said. “It’s really hard to predict. But that seems crazy when they told us it wouldn’t go over $3 again and it’s gone up $0.30 in a month.”
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