Gas prices, demand are tanking in Aspen, elsewhere
Traffic is down and so are gas prices in Aspen, which often holds the dubious distinction of having some of the most expensive cheap stuff in the country.
These days, however, inexpensive gas isn’t cause for celebration at a time when most vehicles are stationary because of the global pandemic.
“Nobody is buying gas, and they don’t care what the prices are because people aren’t going anywhere,” said Jeff Jandegian, one of the owners of the Conoco service station in Snowmass Village, which was charging $2.59 for regular unleaded Friday.
The Snowmass station has gone from selling “a few thousand gallons a day to a few hundred,” he said, explaining that translates from “probably 100 cars a day to about six.”
“And once they do fill up, they don’t have to fill up for a month,” Jandegian said.
Because of a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, gas prices already were falling prior to the national health crisis.
Now with the pandemic, there is significantly less travel and emptier streets due to stay-at-home orders, closed businesses and lost jobs. Pitkin County officials have encouraged travelers to stay away from Aspen and its surroundings while sheltering orders are intact.
On Wednesday, AAA Colorado said the statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded was $1.82; that’s 84 cents cheaper than the $2.66-per-gallon average from the same time in 2019.
The national average Wednesday was $1.85, as demand for gasoline dropped 44% to 5 million barrels per day, according to AAA. OPEC also said last week it would be cutting crude oil production by nearly 10 billion barrels per day in May and June.
The average price per gallon in Pitkin County — where it has not been uncommon to see prices in the $4 to $5 range — as of Friday was $2.20, said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley.
“You compare that to Glenwood, which is about $2, and Vail is dipping to $1.85 right now,” he said.
At Roxy’s Corner gas station at the Aspen Business Center, assistant manager Wendy Smith said “there isn’t demand for it right now. … We don’t have the tourist traffic, the construction traffic.”
On Friday, Roxy’s was charging $2.51 a gallon for the regular, while offering $2.31 to local residents.
Bringing down the county’s average is the Woody Creek Station, which sells Phillips 66 gas from its location by the Aspen Village neighborhood. The Woody Creek Station has become the go-to place for the cheapest gas in Pitkin County if not the entire Roaring Fork Valley, and Friday it was charging $1.91 for a gallon of regular unleaded.
Business is down, said co-owner Ryan Warren, but “we have a commitment to keep everybody here employed, and employed full-time.”
“Most folks for us are living from paycheck to paycheck, and they can’t handle reduced hours and they certainly can’t handle being laid off,” he said.
The Woody Creek Station remains open seven days a week, and its gas dispensers operate 24/7 as they do at the other local stations, including the Locals Corner, which is downtown Aspen’s sole service station.
On Friday it was charging nearly $2.70 for a gallon of Shell regular unleaded, making it the most expensive gas in Pitkin County. That same 85 octane was going for $4.19 a gallon six months ago in mid-October, The Aspen Times reported then. Jandegian said he’s keeping his staff on the payroll also. The convenience store is open Tuesday through Friday, and their mechanics are still working on vehicles, though there’s not much business.
“We’re suffering like everybody and trying to keep our employees,” he said. “We haven’t let go of anybody and we’re getting a few cars to fix.”
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