London KY Shell station
San Diegans willing to venture out from home quarantine are noticing some positives. Freeways are wide open, and the price of gas is dropping like a rock.
In the traditional time of year when SoCal refiners switch to a more costly “summer blend,” gas prices in San Diego County have fallen an average of 37 cents a gallon since the February 24 seasonal high of $3.55 (regular, cash price.)
The eight of the top ten low price leaders are independent stations in the business districts of Escondido and Oceanside; communities abandoned long ago by branded gas retailers in exchange for higher-priced freeway interchange locations. All ten locations were under $2.55 a gallon, including two rural, Native American-owned stations at casinos – Harrah’s in Valley Center and the La Jolla Reservation Trading Post on Highway 76 towards Lake Henshaw.
Mohsen Gas’ two locations in Oceanside, one on Coast Highway, the other on Mission Avenue, were posted by gasbuddy.com as the county’s lowest at $2.45 – an eight-cent drop over a 48-hour period. Even in low-priced Oceanside, on March 22, there was a price spread of $1.14-a-gallon difference between the lowest and highest stations.
In a rapidly lowering gas market, independents respond quicker than the big box retailers in lowering gas prices, as none of the top ten were Costco locations. Military and veterans buying gas at base exchanges usually have higher gas prices than found in town in a lowering gas market. The federal government purchases long-term contracts for gas supplies, thus unable to lower prices on pre-purchased gas.
Seven county stations have remained consistently priced above $4.00 a gallon over the fall and winter months. The highest is a Shell near the airport at $4.39, long known to be priced to take advantage of last-minute rental car returns, and an ARCO at $4.39 on Telegraph Canyon Road in Chula Vista. Both ARCO and Shell brands in Southern California offer the same gas, owned and refined by Tereso in Torrance, a subsidiary of Marathon Oil.
In spite of the state’s 66 cents a gallon in taxes, a Sinclair Gas in Lemoore, CA is selling for $2.25, the lowest in the state. According to a Kentucky newspaper, the Scioto Post, a station in London, KY hit 99 cents on March 19.
At the lowest price for a barrel of crude oil since 2003, a March 19 Bloomberg report states oil traders are struggling with one of the biggest oil crashes in history. Analysts from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup expected prices to drop to $20 a barrel in the coming weeks. On March 20, with the suggested shelter-in-place advisement over the coronavirus causing Americans to not be driving unnecessarily, a barrel of crude hit the $20 mark.