Mesa resident Joyce Lewis thinks gasoline prices are "horrible," and she’s shocked they have remained so high even after the ruptured Kinder Morgan pipeline was repaired and the Labor Day driving holiday is over.
But she’s not anticipating they will go down.
"It’s an excuse to to get more from the person who has to drive to work," she said Thursday as she filled up at an East Valley gasoline station. "(Oil companies) are out for all the traffic will bear."
Her frustration is widely shared, but few answers are available for why prices remain stubbornly high in the East Valley.
Representatives of oil companies and some gasoline station operators either could not be reached by the Tribune or declined to comment.
"This is a typical scenario where prices shoot up and then float down like a parachute," said state Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, R-Chandler, who has been appointed by Gov. Napolitano to a task force on essential services that will study how the state can avoid similar situations in the future. "This has been a historic thing. Whenever we see price spikes, they always come back down slowly."
The governor hopes the task force will be able to find the answer, said Pati Urias, the governor’s spokeswoman. "She also wants to know why it is taking so long."
Actually, gasoline prices have dropped slightly in the past two weeks, according to surveys by AAA Arizona.
The average price of selfserve unleaded gas in the East Valley stood at $2 Thursday, which was down from $2.08 seven days previously on Sept. 4 and $2.12 on Aug. 28, said AAA spokeswoman Yvette Ortiz Lopez.
The average price in Scottsdale stood at $2.04, down from $2.12 the previous week and $2.17 two weeks ago.
But the average price still remains far above the level in early August, before the pipeline break, when the East Valley average stood at $1.51 and the Scottsdale average was $1.58.
Luz Rubio, executive director of the Southwest Automotive Trades Alliance, which represents franchise dealers of major brands, said they are still having to pay a steep wholesale price, which they have no choice but to pass on to consumers.
Prices at nonmajor brands such as Diamond Shamrock and QT appear to have been dropping faster because they can get plenty of supply at lower cost, she said.
Lopez believes the price will continue to fall if motorists remain patient.
"The summer season has ended, and driving demand has been curtailed significantly," she said. "There has been an easing in the supply crunch, and the crude oil price dropped nearly $3 a barrel in the past week, although it edged up (Thursday)."
Several gasoline buyers interviewed by the Tribune took the situation in stride.
"I understand this is business," said David Marderosian of Tempe. "They stock up on gas at so much per gallon, and they have to use it up first. But it should be starting to go down now."
Others said they expect prices to remain high.
"We have to pay for the war (in Iraq)," said Maria Castro of Mesa.
"Our state is slow on everything," added Carla Pierson of Tempe. "They seem to take their time on everything."