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Gasoline Profits Finally Capped


Dec. 16, 2005 – V.I. government officials introduced regulations Thursday limiting profits per gallon sold, citing some of the world's highest gasoline prices.
Andrew Rutnick, commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, had announced a plan to do this starting Oct. 15 (see "Territory Limits Gasoline Profits"), but fluctuating prices had delayed enactment.
Despite being home to the Western Hemisphere's second largest oil refinery, gas in the U.S. Virgin Islands costs more per gallon than anywhere in the Americas, Rutnik said.
The new regulations limit wholesalers' profits to $.30 profit per gallon sold and retailers to $.35 per gallon.
Industry officials are upset about the limits.
It costs more to do business in territory because the gasoline market is comparatively small, Winthrop Maduro, a consultant for Texaco on St. Thomas, said.
Maduro said competition should set the market price, not the government.
The regulations don't affect the Hovensa oil refinery on St. Croix, under an agreement that exempts the refinery from some government control.
Gas prices have leapt since the government lifted a seven-month price freeze, climbing to more than $2.47 per gallon in some areas.
At between $1.80 and $2.08 per gallon before tax, gas had cost about the same in the U.S. Virgin Islands as on the U.S. mainland. The price on the mainland, however, is after a $.42 tax is added to each gallon. The Virgin Islands tax is $.14 per gallon.
Gasoline on St. Croix costs between $1.75 and $2.13 (approximately the same as in metro Chicago this week). On St. Thomas it costs between $2.47 and $2.39. On St. John it's even higher: between $2.51 and $2.44, according to government records.

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