Oklahoma City area fuel costs drop

Saturday, October 8th 2005, 5:58 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The price of gasoline dropped dramatically in the Oklahoma City area in recent days to the lowest average metro-area price in the country at the end of the week.

AAA spokesman Chuck Mai attributed the price free-fall largely to a price war involving local 7-Eleven stores.

``7-Eleven typically is the price leader in Oklahoma City,'' Mai said. ``They are the first to come down, and typically others will follow suit if they feel they can. That's what we're seeing now.''

Dozens of 7-Elevens and other stations lowered their prices to $2.27 a gallon Friday afternoon, just two days after many of the same locations were charging nearly $2.80 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

Jim Brown, president of 7-Eleven Stores of Oklahoma, denied the drop marked a price war. Instead, he said, the price reduction has been fueled by sharp changes in the amount retailers pay for the fuel they sell.

``I've never seen wholesale prices fall this quickly,'' Brown said. ``We try to reflect our costs in the way we sell gasoline. Our prices on the street reflect the movements of our costs. When our prices go up fast, you can be guaranteed our costs are going up. And when prices are going down, it's because our costs are going down.''

The average price in Oklahoma City fell to $2.49 Friday, down from nearly $2.76 just one day before. At the same time, Tulsa's price slipped just about 5 cents to $2.74, down from $2.79 on Thursday.

Statewide, Friday's average was $2.67 while the national average hovered at $2.93.

Mai said it is hard to tell why Tulsa and other nearby markets have not yet seen their prices drop significantly.

``What happens in Oklahoma City ... has little if any effect in Tulsa, and vice versa,'' Mai said.

The wholesale price slipped about a penny on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday, but the level is down more than 37 cents over the past week. Industry observers have credited the wholesale reduction to increased production from refineries that were temporarily knocked off-line by hurricanes and from decreased demand for gasoline.