Gasoline prices going up?


Saturday, April 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


The weather's like a roller coaster this time of year. So, too, it turns out, are gasoline prices. What you paid last night may not be what greets you at the pump come morning.

KOTV's Scott Thompson says with gasoline prices jumping around like they are someone's making money, right? Well, don't direct your anger at the gas station owner. No one filling up at Speedy's Phillips 66 had anything kind to say about gasoline going for a $1.39. Everything's about the same right now, $1.39. What did you pay last week? $1.26. How do you explain it? I have no idea, just trying to railroad us.

John Mielkus says the price was pretty constant on his trip over from Missouri. What did you pay last week? $1.29 How do you explain it? "Somebody's gettin' the money they shouldn't be gettin.'" But get this. The man selling them their gasoline says he's being quite charitable. Mike Gramm says at $1.39, he's giving gas away. "Usually, the inside of the store is where we're making our money today." Keith Sorrells is the man who sells Mike his gasoline. As General Manager of Arkansas Valley Petroleum, he tracks what each of the 80 or so stations he supplies is paying him for gas. Right now, it's about $1.36 a gallon. "So people are selling their gasoline at or below cost. Basic finance tells you you're supposed to buy something at a level and sell it for more so you make a profit, that's not necessarily the case in gasoline."

Anyone who pays for their gasoline at Speedy's 66 with a credit card is getting quite a steal. Because Mike has to pay the card company, Visa, MasterCard, about 3% of every sale. That wipes out his 3 cent profit, and then some. "It's been quite a challenge for me personally, you hit it right on the head when you said that I'm trying to take care of my employees, it's awful hard to do that when we're giving away the gasoline." And Keith works with slim margins, too. For every 8,500-gallon tanker truck he sends out, a penny-a-gallon profit comes back. About $85 for each truck. "We make our living selling gasoline and our living is based on our retailers being able to survive and pay their bills and it's a challenge all the way around."

Keith Sorrells says Tulsa is a very competitive market. Someone will lower their price by a penny to sell more gasoline, and then when everyone in the business realizes they're losing money, someone will take the jump and raise prices, and then it starts all over again.
Mike Gramm at Speedy's put in a deli, hoping sandwiches might help him pay the bills.