Tag: PADD

The Speedway Effect, Cincy style

Recently there was an article and news story on WCPO in Cincinnati about Speedway. In it they said a lot of things TheGasGame readers would already know, plus something I found interesting at first, and one outright falsehood.

They come right out of the gate letting us know Speedway’s secret: Real estate.

“We wanted to know how Speedway is able to change its prices market-wide without fear of what the station across the street is going to do. What we discovered is that in most cases, there is no station across the street.”

They used Google Maps and Street View to confirm that 63 out of 92 had no direct competition. This is how they are able to raise prices and not worry about the competition. I had never thought of this before. I started mapping Indianapolis Speedways, and sure enough, 30 of the 52 stations there have no direct competition.

I thought about this revelation a little further, and it really isn’t a Speedway thing. I found about the same ratio of other branded stations have stand alone stations compared to ones having competition. And then, it is also rare to see a Wal*Mart next to a Meijer, or Target; and a Lowes next to a Home Depot. Seems Speedway’s secret isn’t much of a secret at all. Not to mention they don’t do anything to prove this is why Speedway raises prices the way they do.

Then there is the outright falsehood.

“The vast majority of Speedway locations jumped to $2.65 with no corresponding spike in oil prices. Oil futures did go up 3.2 percent the day before, but gas prices in Cincinnati shot up by nearly four times that amount. And oil prices were actually falling while our gas prices were rising that Tuesday.”

The article and story was run on the 25th, but the spike up in prices happened on the 17th. Oil went up on the 17th, not down. Also, oil does not set the price of gas in this area (the PADD II). That would be the Chicago Mercantile trading of the Chicago Spot.

An analysis of the Chicago Spot from November 9th to the 17th shows that while it rose from $1.8218 to $1.9224, the average price of gas fell, almost 11 cents in Indiana, 9 cents in Michigan and 13 cents in Ohio. The Speedway spike caused averages in those three areas to go up 17 cents in Indiana, 11 cents in Michigan (with higher UP prices included), and 22 cents in Ohio.

They were far from jumping up with no correlating spike. They did not even meet the difference in each area. A 10 cent rise added to how the average fell in each area shows Speedway undercut Indiana by 4 cents, Michigan 8 cents and 1 cent in Ohio.

The rest is stuff we here at TheGasGame have been preaching a long time, long before even I came along. Speedway is the leader, selling 1 of every 5 gallons of gas. They have more corporate stations that any other. After Speedway rises, others follow, a statement that flies in the face of the earlier revelation that Speedway stations have no local competition.

If you haven’t visited the “Speedway Effect” article here at TheGasGame, I suggest you do so. You’ll learn far more accurate information than you did with this article. Also, if you have followed me at my Fair Price threads in the GasBuddy forums in Indianapolis, Indiana and Michigan, you can see I have discovered the pattern, and can pretty accurately predict when a spike will happen.

My new feature here at TheGasGame continues that. It’s called “The Spike Line”. It is a new name for what I have been doing all along in the “Fair Price” threads. It’s just a more accurate title. When the Spike Line is crossed, you can expect a spike up in prices from Speedway, it’s that simple. If there are other circumstances to cause or prevent a spike I’ll let you know that there as well. It’s just another way that TheGasGame is helping you save money. It’s one of the big reason’s I am proud to be a part of it.

I’d hate to do this on my first post, but…

With wholesale gas prices going up again today, we are at near break even margins here in Indiana (with a little breathing room in Michigan).  Prices here in the PADD2 area are now putting us in the red when it comes to national prices on the GasBuddy color map.  Today it went up due to yet another DOE report where we are at a low 47.4 million barrels of gas, down from over 52 million barrels a couple weeks ago.  There has to be something wrong with the supply, but for now I can only give you the bad news of higher prices, not the reason for them.

There is a possibility of a spike tomorrow.  Since it would be the second in a week, something that usually doesn’t happen, there is also the possibility it won’t happen.  But be on the lookout for prices going into the $2.70s, and possibly the low $2.80s if it does go.

Follow-up on likely gas price hike… “triple whammy”

As I said earlier today, gasoline prices are likely to jump across all Speedway States as soon as tomorrow to $1.99 or even higher.

I’ll follow up and let you know what’s going on.

As you may know, Midwest prices have been seen as low as $1.59, much lower than the national average today of $1.891 according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. A large reason of lower Midwest pricing as of late is that PADD 2 storage levels have reached high levels, untypical for this time of year. I have said that we’ve recently benefited from this, what I call a "Chicago Discount". The "Chicago Discount" is due to a regional condition causing Chicago "Spot" Pricing to be lower than other areas.

Now onto the bad news.
Yesterday, ExxonMobil reported shutting down a unit at its 238,000 bpd plant just outside Chicago, IL (Joliet), which would cause a large drop in output at Midwest refineries. This, coupled with news from the DOE that regional stockpiles fell last week, as well as a huge nationwide drop in gasoline stockpiles, will cause a large price spike.

Any Chicago Discount will likely "dry up", and with the changeover to the April gasoline contract also adding to a hike. The gasoline contract for March, expiring today, was 8-cents lower than the new April contract, which takes effect tomorrow, causing a "triple whammy": More expensive April contract begins tomorrow, Refinery outage regionally, and a loss in gasoline stockpiles will definitely cause higher prices.

I would be *shocked* if prices don’t rise tomorrow and stations that purchase new fuel tomorrow would lose money if they do not raise prices.

I am unsure about the amount of the hike, but it may be over $2/gal, as soon as tomorrow morning.

Be sure to fuel ASAP.

Diesel under $2?! Quite possible in just days…

That’s right- you folks with the diesel trucks may FINALLY get to see diesel under $2 again, something maybe you thought (and I) that you wouldn’t see again in your lifetime!

The Pilot station in Burns Harbor, Indiana (about a 1.5-2 hour drive from Grand Rapids) is currently selling diesel at $2.01. Now, you definitely would not drive down there just to get fuel, but if you’re taking a trip to Chicago, fill up there.

I wonder when and if UPS will EVER give up their fuel surcharges now that diesel prices have come down. I highly doubt it, I’m sure they love the extra income it brings!

I don’t see Midwest prices going up anytime soon, in fact- I see a Chicago Discount building in. Midwest PADD storage was at 52.5 million barrels yesterday in the DOE’s weekly report- a GREAT number to be sitting at. Refiners will start having to sell that winter blend fuel at discounted prices once Summer comes closer…

Midwest prices should fall into the $1.70’s. I’ll be watching the market closely, a price hike may happen sooner rather than later.

I’ll be taking vacation to sunny Florida next week, so posting may be lacking.

Patrick

Whiting refinery maintenance, possible refinery worker strike… possible outcome? Record high gas prices!

Bad news tonight for consumers, although I personally believe that some issues will be addresssed and corrected before disaster hits. Without wasting time, let me cover the issues.

First, we have a number of refineries reporting being completely shut down tonight, including a 245,000bpd refinery in Texas and a 108,000bpd refinery in Washington. We also have some issues closer to home here in the Midwest. BP’s massive Whiting, Indiana refinery has unexpectedly shut a unit for maintenance. BP was hopeful that the maintenance would only last a week at most, but keep in mind that the unit needs to be shut-down and restarted which means that the unit’s actual time down will be more than a week. I am hopeful that BP will be accurate and have the unit back online ASAP to avoid higher prices in the Midwest market, but with Midwest prices already high, I am somewhat fearful that Midwest spot prices may rise more than those outside our PADD.

A possible price hike may happen as soon as tomorrow. I don’t have an estimated price range due to these issues listed, but it would be no lower than $1.99 and COULD break $2/gallon.

Also on the radar here at TheGasGame.com is a POSSIBLE STRIKE that could occur at some U.S. refineries as early as Sunday at 12:01am if a contract is not met. The United Steel Workers, a union that represents 30,000 workers at half of U.S. refineries that have a capacity of roughly 17.6 million barrels per day of refining capacity, may strike if a contract is not agreed on by weekend, Reuters reports.

Talks could go "down to the wire" on Saturday says USW spokesperson Lynne Baker. While both sides obviously want a new contract in place, both sides are bracing for strike. Oil companies are putting replacement workers on stand-by. Any strike would likely shut down a large portion of refinery capacity in the U.S. and could lead to a spike in gasoline prices as production dives to record low levels. This is a risky situation and one that has the potential to lead to overnight price spikes if there is no resolution. While I am also hopeful, I realize that the odds of a large refinery shut down are very small.

BP does say they WILL SHUT DOWN four of their five refineries represented by labor unions if there is a strike or lockout. BP said it would shut the plants to continue the good working relationship it has formed with the USW in recovering from a deadly 2005 explosion at its Texas City, Texas, refinery.

If any strike does occur, it would lead a huge blow to Midwest consumers, already paying more than the national average and dealing with higher unemployment than any other area in the country. I estimate that if a strike does occur and half of U.S. refineries elect to shut down, gasoline prices could spike almost overnight to $3 or $4.

In good news for Midwest consumers, PADD two contains the most crude oil since 1998- but we still need refineries to refine it so prices drop locally!

Like I said, any strike and shutdown is quite unlikely, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore a possible outcome or not plan ahead. Keep this in mind this week, and check back here at TheGasGame.com for further updates.

For media inquiries regarding this story, please contact us at media (AT) thegasgame.com

Patrick

Temporary respite in gas price hikes likely… prices to fall!

After the expected Speedway hike to $1.99 Tuesday, we can expect a break in gas price hikes as the DOE released a favorable report on weekly oil inventories today.

The report on oil and gasoline stockpiles contained some very good (bearish) news for the markets. It was expected that oil inventories were to gain 800,000 barrels last week while they actually gained much more than that- an astounding 6.7 million barrels. Gasoline inventories also gained much more than expected, to the tune of 3.3 million barrels. Traders were expecting very small gains in both and news of such a large gain prompted thoughts of the weak economy and recession we’re in and prompted selling.

Midwest stockpiles (PADD 2) also gained a healthy amount jumping from 46.8 million barrels to over 48 million barrels.

All of this news comes at a good time for Midwest gasoline consumers who had been taking a hit as Midwest storage had fallen to levels not seen since 2007. We can expect that gasoline prices have a temporary drop in Midwestern states (Indiana, Ohio, Michigan), and that any “Chicago Premium” will either drop off completely, or become a “Chicago Discount” as we see PADD 2 reach higher levels not seen since before Thanksgiving (2008).

As many know, wholesale prices may rise the remainder of the week negating my comments below, but if wholesale prices do not rise, we could see areas in the Midwest drop into the $1.70s… keep in mind ONLY if wholesale prices do not rise soon.

Patrick

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