Gas Prices Jump Again

Thursday, May 22nd 2008, 7:49 am
By: News On 6

Gas prices hit another high on Thursday in Tulsa, reaching $3.69 a gallon for regular unleaded blended with ethanol. The price increase comes just as gas stations are changing over to a less polluting blend of gasoline used in the summer months.

The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports the new blend of fuel is going into the tanks at some stations and that could cause an increase because it's a more refined product, that's on top of the jump caused by the price of crude oil.

As Tulsa drivers pay record prices at the pump it's likely to go up more because of a lower polluting gasoline used each summer.

"All things being equal anytime you have a special spec of gasoline, there is going to be an increase of costs," said QuikTrip's Mike Thornbrugh. 

At QuikTrip and other stations, the special blend has to be in the tanks by June 1st.

What's in the tanks now, according to the industry, actually has kept Tulsa's prices lower than the national average.

Since last fall, most Tulsa stations have been selling a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol, that's cheaper to make.

In the summer, the gasoline is further refined to lower the vapor pressure, which creates less pollution, but costs more.

"I guess it's all right, if it supposed to cut down on pollution, but it's not really helping us out," said Sean Noboa.

Tulsa's hazy sky should improve as cars start burning the summer blend and ethanol is also a move towards less polluting fuel.

Pipeline company Magellan Midstream recently built a $2 million ethanol mixing system in West Tulsa, banking on its continued use.

"We blend gasoline with ethanol as it's going into the truck, so the fuel that goes to the station has precisely 90% gasoline, 10% ethanol on board," said Bruce Heine of Magellan Midstream.

As prices soar and pollution becomes more of a concern, gas stations are looking to balance what mix of fuel they sell, at what price.

"Is what we're doing really helping, or is it just sending up the cost?  We're looking at that very closely," said Thornbrugh.

The summer blend of gasoline can be made with or without ethanol, so even this summer, some stations will still sell the ethanol blend and a few will be selling the pure gasoline.