After holding relatively steady for a number of months, gasoline prices have been steadily rising in the territory since mid-December, and if federal officials have it right, drivers can expect a little more pain at the pump over the next two years.
According to data from the V.I. Division of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, the price of retail gas on St. Thomas went from hovering at $3.50 all of November and most of December, then began to rise, hitting $3.59 for the average price of regular on Dec. 17, $3.68 on Jan. 21 and $3.87 as of Feb. 14.
On St. Croix, prices hovered around $2.70 in November and much of December. But by Jan. 20, St. Croix’s average price at the pump for regular had jumped 34 cents to $3.04 where it would hover, rising a little to $3.08 by Feb. 10.
While St. Thomas prices started and ended higher than St. Croix, both experienced an increase of 37 to 38 cents since mid-December.
For comparison, average prices nationwide have also gone up, but slightly less dramatically, over the same time. The U.S. average pump price for regular gas rose from $2.77 on Nov. 1 to $2.96 on Dec. 6, then rising slowly to $3.10 by Feb. 14, for a 33-cent overall increase during that span, according to data fro the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Price increases stateside began a few weeks earlier than in the territory.
Coming as no surprise to those who travel between the islands, St. Croix prices closely track stateside averages, while St. Thomas prices are consistently higher.
Unfortunately, there is little reason for optimism about gas prices over the short term. The U.S. Energy Information Agency expects retail prices for regular gas to average $3.15 per gallon in 2011—37 cents per gallon higher than the 2010 average—and $3.30 per gallon in 2012.
Meanwhile, according to the DLCA, the best bargain for self-service gas on St. Croix as of Feb. 16, is a three-way tie between Five Corners Gas Station, Gateway Service Station and Royal Service Station at $2.98.
On St. Thomas, Total in Frenchtown comes out on top with $3.76.