Goldman Sachs – MUSA gas still cheapest around but price rise reflects nationwide trend
Last Sunday, John Day wrote a letter to the editor addressing the rise in gas prices and, more specifically, the rise in gas prices at Murphy USA retailers.
“When Murphy USA put a station in El Dorado, I thought it would be independent of El Dorado’s other gasoline sellers,” Day wrote.
Murphy USA has marketed the company as being different from its competitors on the price and quality of their products. “From the lowest prices on gas to exclusive deals on your family’s favorite snacks and drinks, we’re always going the extra mile to help you buy smarter and drive farther,” according to Murphy’s website.
However, the company’s philosophy can’t stop nationwide trends that extend past MUSA into other gasoline retailers.
Gas prices are up more than $0.25 per gallon nationwide in the last month, to an average $2.68 per gallon for regular, auto club AAA reported on Thursday.
Here in El Dorado. the highest price for a gallon of regular is $2.59 at retailers like Exxon, Mobil and Phillips 66. The lowest price for a gallon of regular in the city is $2.46 at retailers like Murphy USA and Brookshire’s.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the rise of gas prices, as oil production slowed at the start of the pandemic. And because the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is still moving slow in boosting oil production, crude and gas prices will continue to soar. Goldman Sachs estimated this week that a barrel of oil will hit $72 by the start of summer, according to a Yahoo report on Thursday.
Another reason for the higher prices is the progression in COVID vaccinations and a return to some sense of normalcy with travel. The demand for gas will continue to steadily pick up as more and more Americans gain confidence in travel with the wider distribution of vaccinations nationwide.
“At the foundation of the rise [in oil prices] is the fact that the coronavirus situation continues to improve, pushing global oil demand higher as production continues to lag, pushing U.S. gas prices higher,” GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan told MoneyWise of Yahoo last week.
Another concern Day expressed was the cheaper gas prices at other Arkansas MUSA retailers. For example, in Hot Springs Village, MUSA’s prices are right at $2.30, about $0.15 cheaper than El Dorado. Factors like the oil market, demand and distribution costs of the product, among others, determine the ultimate price one will pay at the pump.
“Stations next to each other may have different traffic patterns, rents and sources of supply that affect their prices,” according to AAA.
While MUSA’s prices have gone up in line with other gas retailers, their prices on average are still cheaper than their competitors.
“Murphy USA strives to provide our customers quality fuel and low prices. In 2020 our customers across the U.S. saved $160 million when comparing our fuel prices to the average price of our competitors in each market we serve. Even with the challenge of $.40-$.50/gallon increases in wholesale fuel costs over the past three weeks, we are working hard to ensure we offer the lowest prices in each of the markets we serve,” John Moore, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of MUSA, said of the gas prices.
The News-Times also reached out to Day for a follow-up statement on this latest reporting. He acknowledges the additional factors in play for the hike in price like shipping, location, etc., but his main concern remains the same, he said.
“My perspective on what I wrote about those two instances has not changed,” Day said. “When other stations in town went up, so did MUSA. I just would like to see them price their gasoline independently of what the others charge in town. And, as I have already said, MUSA El Dorado has not increased their price as of this writing. Also, a quick check on the Murphy Drive Reward app shows that our station does not have the highest price in the state for MUSA stations. We are even a penny less than Flippin’s price.”