Because Ethanol!

Comment on the March 26 prediction:  So much for the WRONG “easy prediction”, as we saw another Saturday hike, to $3.85.

Friday, April 4, 2014, 8:15AM:  We have a great group of commenters on our site right now, and they have pointed the way to understanding what has been going on with these price hikes lately.  As you may have heard on the news, March saw a shortage of ethanol (related to problems in rail service!), and a spike in ethanol prices.  Since most retail gas these days is at least 10% ethanol, depending on where you live, this has impacted prices, and it is also messed up my calculations.  I have never factored fluctuations in the price of ethanol into my spreadsheet, but I will start doing so when I do my annual spreadsheet upgrade in May.

So, what happens this weekend?  Ignoring the ethanol issue, prices could fall to $3.50 in Michigan, and we are in the mid $3.60’s right now.  If we had the kind of ethanol shortages we had in March, then a hike back to $3.85 is likely in the next few days.

I just don’t know, so the safe thing to do is to fill up for $3.65 or less today. — Ed A.

Updated: April 4, 2014 — 8:17 am

57 Comments

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  1. Wood tv 8 has a story that prices are falling which usually means it’s going to go up soon.

  2. I agree with Tireman. Every Single Time I have ever heard any expert say that prices will be seen falling, things coerce to prove them wrong. Without fail. Fort Wayne dipped below the Indiana average which in the past has been an 85% of the time indicator of a spike in 3 days. And today, Fort Wayne dipped below Ohio’s average. This will not be allowed to stand. I am going to fill up. Need it anyway.

  3. My bets are a Sat Greedway hike to 3.999. Don’t think they will break the 4.00 mark yet, even though it is only .001 off that.

  4. @Timm: The article doesn’t predict anything. It simply states that prices “appear to be falling.”

    Of course prices spike shortly thereafter, because prices spike a few times a month. It’s inevitable after a price drop, and it happens regardless of whether media report it or “experts” point it out.

    It’s like when people suggest that prices spike “because” of a holiday, even though they were going to spike on that day regardless of whether a holiday happened to be around the corner.

  5. Ethanol down almost $1/gal in two days. That leads to a ~10c/gal reduction in blending costs so prices do have room to move, ALTHOUGH Chicago CBOB is up today.

  6. I wish I could be so optomistic. Crude is up over $101.50 again. NYRBOB is up a bunch which means Chicago spot and wholesale may follow suit. Jobs report has Wall Street in a giddy mood. After this weeks spike another Greegway Monday or Tuesday spike wouldn’t surprise me at all. I’ve been through too many of these things to be hopefull.

  7. Becky…The trend right now appears to be to spike on Saturday, rather than wait till Monday and see if things calm down. So watch out for tomorrow, even. My local station dropped 9 cents today. I’m topping my tank. Even if this isn’t the lowest it will get, it’s good enough right now to not feel bad about filling up.

  8. The folks at Speedway chose to do a somewhat unusual partial price hike in Chicagoland Thursday with something over 1/2 the stations going up to $3.99. Others never budget from prices as low as the mid $3.60s.

  9. Does anyone know what time tomorrow Greedway will press the price hike button lol? Saturday is their favorite day of the week now.

  10. Local station in Allegan, MI is st 3.59 and they said to expect hike tonight or tomorrow to 3.89

  11. Past Saturday hikes I’ve seen have started about 9 or 10 am.

  12. I’ve actually noticed that Saturday hikes start earlier than weekday hikes at around 8 am

  13. Handy Dandy will open in the morning @ the new price if there is a hike. They even beat Speedway hrere.

  14. No Saturday spike evident in the Indy market. The average price has dropped a penny since yesterday, to $3.586.

    That is 3.5 cents higher than the US average. We might finally drop even with the US average for the first time in almost two months, but I’m not counting on it.

  15. I think we might get our first Sunday Hike this year. They seem to like trying new days.

  16. No Sunday spike in Indy either.

    In fact, the Indy and USA averages are an identical 3.551!

    Enjoy it while it lasts.

  17. NW Indiana saw a spike to $3.899 on Saturday due to the rise in RBOB spot prices. So that spike was justified.

  18. Prices in Dublin Ohio on 4/4 @noon $3.45….$3.65 @5pm…..a $0.02 drop on 4/6 but at 8am on 4/7 prices are $3.30. I’m new to your site and trying to figure out the $0.30-$0.35 weekly (without fail) price hikes and drops. It does seen awfully convenient for the gas stations the prices spike here (usually Wednesday/Thursday) stay up all weekend then drop on Monday.

  19. Welcome, Dave. It will take a while to understand the dynamics of gas pricing — some weeks, there is no hike, and this Saturday hikefest is a new phenomenon.

  20. Well at least they waited till Monday.. 3.859 in Kazoo area.

  21. $3.85 in Grand Rapids

  22. The various Midwestern Speedway markets are very much out of synch with their price hike days right now.

  23. After one day below the national average, Indy is spiking to $3.799.

  24. Latest Barrons front page story is the return of 75.00 barrel oil. But you would never know we’re ‘headed’ there from the current prices. Profit Profit Profit. and new for 2014… random spike days!

  25. Profit has always been part of the equation, even when gas prices were under $1.00 in the 1990s.

  26. As if to give Speedway the “Nodd”, here it is early Tuesday morning, and only Lassus Handy Dandy and a few random other stations have spiked yet. As if begging Speedway to follow so everybody will follow. I have noticed this before is Fort Wayne.

  27. Spike to $3.799 under way in OH,KY and the rest of IN.

  28. So I was one cay off. $3.79 it is.

    The bidding war is already beginning in advance of the next price spike. Wall Street is anticipating shrinking oil and gasoline inventories…and the weekly report doesn’t come out until tomorrow morning. I hope the only significant shrinkage for Wall Street is you know where. $3.99 by April 24th is my prediction

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-07/wti-crude-rebounds-after-discount-to-brent-narrows-a-second-day.html

  29. Day that it.

  30. Never Mind

  31. Using the avg price on gasbuddy, Ohio’s spike price is a full 23 cents above the national average. We were 2 cents ABOVE pre-spike

  32. As of 11:30 Wednesday Cincinnati Avg sits at 17 cents above the national average. NY RBOB at +7.7 cents & gasoline inventories down sharply. We have nowhere to go but up unless Chicago is going the other way.

  33. Don’t forget, the “experts” a while back said that things would be a little less expensive than last year. In my ecperience, the market apparently conspires to prove them wrong. Fasten seat belts.

  34. Gasoline at the Kroger station in Troy, MI just went up 15 cents to $3.759.

    Here are some fun facts: On January 20, 2009; which coincidently was the day of the presidential inauguration; I paid $1.719 for a gallon of gas. By April 9, 2009, the cost was up to $1.919 a gallon. Today, just over 5 years later, I paid $3.759. Facts are fascinating aren’t they?

  35. WTI Crude is above $103 now and I’m sure Chicago Spot will keep pointing upwards. Another Saturday spike or will they wait until Monday?

    The charge for $4+ gas is right around the corner:(

  36. And just 4 months earlier than January 20, 2009 gas was $4.15 a gallon during Hurricaine Ike. By the time Jan. 20th rolled around unemployment was going up .3% to .5% a month. High as the prices are now, I’d rather have it this way with at least some job security.

    Gas prices had volitility for a little while, even before the current president. And to be honest neither political party is doing much about high energy prices.

  37. Repeal the CFMA of 2000(written by 3 repubs and signed into law by a dem President), and energy prices will drop.
    But, with Goldman Sachs as the #1 oil futures contract holder in the world, it will never happen. As we all know, Goldman pretty much owns our government.

  38. Of course the price of gasoline sky rocketed following Hurricane Ike! When it hit Texas it bore down on one of the world’s largest concentrations of oil refineries. At least the reason for the increase was justifiable and the prices did fall back down once the refineries were running again. Today’s gas prices are constantly changing, but often times the increases don’t seem to be for justifiable reasons.

    Anyone with job security in these times is very fortunate. However, I don’t understand your point of equating the price of gasoline to job security. If you’re saying that we as a country are better off today than we were in 2009, you’re entitled to your opinion, but the majority of Americans would disagree with that.

    As for me I’d like to see every politician do their job by serving their constituents. If they’d just do that this country would turn around very quickly.

  39. What I’m saying is sure gas prices were relatively low but the economy was in the midst of the Great Recession. I was part of the unemployment statistics for a while and I certainly couldn’t enjoy the break from the gas prices we were having, not when my income was cut drastically.

    ChrisDG74 is absolutely correct. Repeal the CFMA of 2000, tweaked to the final iteration by Phil Gramm and signed into law by Bill Clinton. Goldman-Sachs has the means to peddle their influence to any professional politician that comes along, D or R.

  40. OK, about 10:00 AM, my early harbinger; “Fort Wayne average dips below Indiana average” has just happened. I know that the calculated cost to retailers is about $3.50, and most cheap stations are about $3.60. But my harbinger is a 3 day one. So I figure Saturday, or Monday? Unless Chicago goes wildly down. Ha! I make myself laugh.

  41. GasBuddy is showing a big drop in the south side of Grand Rapids,
    $3.54 to $3.58 while others are trying to hold on to $3.80 to $3.85. ?????????????

  42. According to the latest spike line numbers, there’s plenty of room for each area market to drop. But it doesn’t make sense for any given station to drop until their traffic suffers.

  43. We can send the railcars to collect the squirrels and take them back to their barracks. Crude is climbing in anticipation of ‘a better US economy’…

    Look for prices just under the magical 4.00 mark thru summer, just when the ‘experts’ were talking $75.00 crude.

  44. I like reading CNBC’s headlines on crude oil. In addition to a “better US economy” it also goes up on things like “hopes”, “Chinese data encouraging” and “some important economist giving a speech in a dark room somewhere” lol.

    I’m almost beginning to doubt we’ll ever see crude below $80 again. And have you ever noticed it always seems to go up on Fridays? I’ll bet if you could pull up historical charts, it rises on probably 98% of the Fridays each year.

  45. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-10/chicago-30-hour-tie-up-for-buffett-s-trains-slows-coal-freight.html

    Ethanol futures last month reached $3.517 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest level in more than seven years.

  46. The spike line seems to be triggered by gas going down to the 3.50 +/- range. it does the 30-40 cent bounce, then slowly floats back to the next spike range in the 3.50’s a few cents higher ratcheting the price a bit each successive spike. I don’t know if its going to be a 4 buck summer, but I wont be surprised by a more or less constant 3.75

  47. Gas is going up to $3.89 today in Grand Rapids

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