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The rise and fall of gas prices in the Mahoning Valley

Published: Sat, March 24, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

Valley gasoline soars to $4, as natural-gas costs hit record lows

By Karl Henkel



As gas prices continue to surge in the Mahoning Valley and across the nation, many economists predict the pain at the pump will suffocate consumers’ wallets.

Some stations, like the Sunoco on Fifth Avenue in Youngstown, had prices as high as $4.09 per gallon Friday afternoon.

But as one form of gas rises — the average cost of regular-grade gasoline is up to $3.88 per gallon in the Valley — another remains at record lows: natural gas.

Natural gas prices are less than $2.30 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, slightly above the 10-year price lows from earlier this month.

That figure is about half the cost of natural gas last year at this time.

The price of regular-grade gasoline a year ago was $3.46 per gallon.

The natural-gas figure is also well below the $13.50 average per BTU in 2008, the last time vehicle fuel prices surged above $4 a gallon.

But are the savings on natural gas prices canceling out the added burden of automotive fuel prices?

“It’s an interesting concept,” said Cleveland-based economist George Zeller.

“The main impact of natural-gas prices come during the wintertime. With the gas process, it’s usually the other way around. You usually get the higher prices in the summer.

“Part of it is the timing.”

Low natural-gas prices coupled with a mild winter — the Valley has had 53.1 inches of snow, with 54.4 inches being the normal total for an entire winter, just a year after setting an all-time snow record, according to the National Weather Service — has meant savings for businesses and homeowners alike.

“With warmer temperatures, we have less need for heat, so we have a natural savings there,” said Ken Kollar, mall manager at Eastwood Mall in Niles. “[The savings] is pretty substantial.”

Michelle Daugherty, 45, of Girard says she has experienced similar savings when it comes to home heating, but those are quickly offset by automotive fuel costs; on Friday, she filled up at $3.85 per gallon at a Shell station in Girard.

“I have noticed a definite difference,” she said. “But I still think I’m paying too much for gas overall.”

Some in the Valley say they’ve given up eating out and clamped down on spending discretionary income.

The overwhelming response, however, is that high gas prices are causing Americans to spend less money — on gas.

MasterCard SpendingPulse reported Friday that gasoline consumption plummeted 4.2 billion gallons, or about 3 percent, in the past year, though some attribute the decline to a shift toward fuel-efficient vehicles.

That, Zeller said, shows the impact of high gas prices on economic growth.

“It already has affected growth to an extent,” he said. “We are [still] getting growth. That’s good, but it’s too slow.”


1chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Why are snowfall totals being used as the indicator of coldness? Wouldn't temperature be better. Also, snow would even have insulating effects

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2sam_carter(121 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Utica, i googled cng conversion and im interested. there seems to be plenty of info about it on the net. have you converted? i think i can do it, but id like to see it first. years ago i remember seeing it on the east ohio gas pickup trucks. they had a cylinder behind the cab.

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3glbtactivist(321 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

How do we get the names of the top ten oil speculators? They need to be held accountable for driving up the price of gasoline. I heard that Koch Industries was the largest speculator. The Koch brothers are the ones running the hateful anti-President Obama TV campaign. With the US having an excess of gasoline and exporting more than we import for the first time ever, this high price of gasoline is very suspicious.

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4thinkthentalk(310 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

glb. Bill Lyden of Lyden oil said on Dan Rivers show that 3 refinerys in the U.S. are not operating, that has an obvious effect on the supply. Economics 101, supply/demand/ price of commodity. koch bros own refinerys.
Something here smacks of price fixing, collusion, anti-trust law violations. Follow that trail and see where it leads. If the kochs are profiting horrendously, and pumping all that money into republican races, what does that tell you?

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5thinkthentalk(310 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Utica, im all for running my vehicle on NG. Whos stifling that technology? Is it the oil companys that feel threatened? sam, utica, when you guys figure it out how to use NG, by all means post it, or ask the vindy to write an article on it so we can all benefit.

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6sam_carter(121 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Thanks utica, ill check into it. There are diy kits on the internet, but im skeptical, a lot of cons and scams that come out when gas goes up. one promotes putting a teaspoon of acetone in your tank at fillup. as far as the epa, NG should burn way cleaner than gas.
What i see as big snag is that your supply tank has to be about 3000psi to get any kind of travel range. im crazy enough to do it, ive got a NO2 bottle on one of my bikes. but i can see some people being squeamish about it.

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7sam_carter(121 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Well welcome up here Ute and good luck on your restore. ill check on those vehicles.
Im happy work is coming back here for our kids. My oldest daughter is a civil engineer, but she went to denver for a job. My next daughter just graduated in chemical engineering. If you dont mind, do you have a connection of where to send a resume, if, how, and when are they hiring?

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8redeye1(5671 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Utica What kind of mileage does CNG vehicle get? Second , what is the price of CNG , if its sold by the gallon or by the pound? What is the ratio of 230 million BTU's equate to in gallons or pounds however it sold.

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9sam_carter(121 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

red, at website fueleconomy.gov, they have a 2011 Honda civic CNG. The cost to drive 25 miles is $1.90. Briefly doing the math, a 30mpg gas car would cost $3.21 to drive 25 miles. Now, the unit price they are using for CNG is $2.13, and im assuming the unit is gallons, from what i derive from the site page.
A few years ago, i was getting raped for my gas heat at $12/M CU FT. Now im down to about $6. Maybe with nat gas coming down and gasoline going up CNG might become worthwhile.

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10redeye1(5671 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Sam Carter Thanks for the info. Its deeply appreciated

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11CountryGirl51(232 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Hmmmm.....So what is so wrong with Gas/Electric cars?

My daughter has a Hybrid that gets 50 mpg ....

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12Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

The politicians didn't bring steel down all by themselves. They were merely tools the corporations decided to pay off and then build elsewhere where peasants could work for peanuts.

Calling natural gas greener is interesting too since it involves pumping millions of gallons of formerly fresh water now laced with chemicals into the ground.I guess it is greener if your in the shale business though.

The mid east isn't jacking up oil prices .Other folks seem to be having it their way though.

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