Battle at the pump

No quick answers on why Craig's gas prices are high

Rod Compton of Craig is probably like a lot of other residents when it comes to buying gasoline. That is, Compton makes an effort to fill up on a tank of gas anywhere but in Craig, where prices typically tend to be higher than in surrounding areas.

"I think they're terrible," he said about Craig's higher-than-average gas prices while filling up his wife's pickup Friday at Craig's west end Loaf-n-Jug. "They're always higher here than anywhere else."

State averages for a gallon of regular unleaded gas were recorded at $1.78 on Friday, according to Colorado AAA. National averages were a few cents higher Friday at $1.80, AAA reported.

But gas prices that hover at about $1.97 a gallon in Craig come as little surprise to residents.

Managers at Craig's Loaf-n-Jug and Kum & Go said gas prices are set by officials at corporate headquarters, leaving no local pricing controls. Officials from those companies weren't available by phone Friday.

The price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas at Bagg's Conoco station was $1.76 on Friday. The station that has been under the same ownership since the 1970s at first matched gas prices to Craig's, but then decided to go by their own pricing schedule. The station owner, who did not want to be named, said it's common for Craig residents to make the 40-mile trip to fill up their vehicles' tanks and other containers with gasoline.

"I have no idea why it's more expensive in Craig," she said. "People will come over and say they're filling up for the savings."

According to the government's Energy Information Administration, it's hard to determine which state or country the gasoline that is available in local gas stations comes from.

Refiners use a combination of crude oils from domestic and foreign sources and the mix can change according to cost. The price of gasoline is mostly influenced by the cost of crude oil, according to the Department of Energy.

A barrel of oil was $48.04 on Friday. That's down from a record peak at about $50 a barrel in previous months.

Distance from refineries and station markups may make a difference in local gas prices.

"In order to stay in business, service stations have to add on a few more cents to make a profit," the Department of Energy states on its Web site. "There's no set standard for how much gas stations add on to the price. Some may add just a couple of cents, while others may add as much as a dime or more."

Evidently, the relatively local high gas prices have a lot of residents trying to find a way to fill up for less.

One local gas station worker even said she didn't buy gas in Craig because it was too expensive.

"It's not our fault," she said. "People blame us all the time."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 ahatten@craigdailypress.com

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