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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.”


1UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Here is wisdom..........FRACKING! yes fracking has caused NG here to be the lowest priced in the world. In two years because of fracking, the US has surpassed Russia as the largest producer of NG in the world, because............of fracking! In Asia and Europe, NG sells fro $17 to $19 per Mcuft., here in the good old USA, $2.30..............yes because of FRACKING. Here is wisdom again...............convert all vehicles to CNG, AMERICAN natural gas. It is cleaner,greener,cheaper.... FOOLS!

GM, what are you waiting for? The damn energy is oozzzing out of the ground for heaven's sake. no wonder why you went bankrupt, you lost that innovation feeling? CNG vehicles is old technology and can be fueled from your garage when a "Phil" contraption is installed.Google it people and read for once in your lives. The current option we remain stupid and with the other end of the gas nozzle being in the sands of the middle east as we give them more money to make bombs to kill us with.....I can't believe us Americans have become so stupid..........yes that includes me.

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2UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

An an off note, I am new to this site and just relocated to this area obviously working in the energy business. Can someone tell me how to put a picture next to my user ID?

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3chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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4sam_carter(93 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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5glbtactivist(261 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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6thinkthentalk(269 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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7thinkthentalk(269 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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8UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Sam, Honda makes a CNG accord, it also can include the garage contraption. GM is coming out with CNG pickups and they have started a factory on CNG engines. Conversions are EPA problematic and must be approached with caution. PA turnpike is adding CNG pumps to every other filling station.

Glbtactivist, you are more like southside activist, not global at all in your knowledge. Gas is not UP, it is our Dollar that is down, no one wants it anymore, they have warehouses of it in Saudi Arabia, China, Germany, Venensuela. Here's a hint, GM is number one again, but look around locally, you don't see many new Gm cars , do you? We have been sending them to China to payoff our debt......they do not accept dollars anymore. Try to really get globally educated, wow! no wonder why YTown is so backwards, but I love the cheap real estate and I'm telling my buddies they need to move up here, we can move the dummies out.

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9sam_carter(93 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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10UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Ya' all are funny....when will you wake up and quit following your inept leaders off the cliff? Think man, us southerners don't trust any politician, look at your Youngstown, and ask yourselves, who led us into this third world status after you came from being the greatest steel mill country in the universe? There you go, it's your leaders! Man, you beat us during the civil war because you were industrial and now ya' all live off of the foodcard. But listen man, I love it up here and ya' all are real nice to us energy workers.

BTW, we can't believe you don't know about all the oil under your ground here. Amazing ya' all don't even consider what the almighty has given you. More of us are on our way up her to work and help you out. Also, we have Youngstown smart engineers down home who don't want to come back up here, they seem to be ashamed of how YTown has changed. It aint bad up here, we really like all the wildlife.

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11UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Chesapeake and 3M have entered into a JV to manufacture composite tanks using Nanotechnology. You are one of the bright ones here, you read. Keep it up, my wife and I are restoring a historic home here since we will be up here for some time now and my design calls for a "phil" in the garage. BTW, here is a tip for you, you can buy CNG utility vehicles all day long online, they are surplus CNG utility vehicles.

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12sam_carter(93 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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13commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Utica, it sure is good to see (read) someone that knows what they are talking about in regards to fracking. Maybe you should set up a "forum" with Hagan so he can be INFORMED about fracking (and the difference between injection wells).

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14redeye1(4621 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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15sam_carter(93 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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16redeye1(4621 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Sam Carter Thanks for the info. Its deeply appreciated

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17UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Ya' all, rule of thumb on CNG vehicles...50% cost of gas, 90% less particulates. 50% of gasoline footprint.

Sam, chemical engineers are in great demand, especially with the midstream energy companies. These are the companies that are going to spend 1.9 billion in Columbiana. Have your daughter start sending resumes to these type of companies. Also, I cannot devulge the energy companies we are associated with, energy companies require us to control our mouths. However, also send resume's to all the energy companies like: Shell, Exxon, Gulport, Hilcorp, Devon, Hess oil, Consol, Range, Rexx, Carrizo, Chevron, all the global companies are here or are heading this way.

Good luck ya'll

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18UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Commonman, your politician Hagan......man why do you guys allow someone like this guy to lead you? Holy cow, I feel bad for you guys. This guy reminds us down south of Huey Long! It's dawgone funny how people up here follow this guy. Can't you do better than this guy........for heavens sake he is a train engineer for God's sake. He aint a leader. no knock on train men, we need 'em....for trains.

Hopefully as we in the energy business bring you all this oil money, you can get rid of all your politicians who do nothing for you but obstruct progress.

You have to be smart enough to see that things are really gonna be different up here now that all these Global companies bought all your mineral rights? These boys don't play, look at Dallas oil money has millions of us working, no more room for the lazy leaders and followers.

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19CountryGirl51(207 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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20Bigben(1996 comments)posted 2 years, 8 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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