April 5, 2006 – When Hovensa's catalytic cracking unit slowed down production March 11 so the company could make repairs, gas prices on St. Thomas and St. John went up.
Licensing Commissioner Andrew Rutnik said Wednesday that this happened because the price of fuel on St. Thomas is tied to the price of fuel sold on the East Coast.
He said Hovensa supplies about a third of all fuel sold along the Eastern seaboard. The refinery started operations again Sunday.
"The supply was interrupted," he said. This made the price go up.
Rutnik said prices on St. Thomas are "well above $3 a gallon."
The Esso station in Sugar Estate listed $3.14 for regular and $3.29 for premium.
On St. John, prices also went up thanks to rising fuel costs.
Robert O'Connor Jr., who owns St. John's Texaco station, said regular is now $3.21 a gallon and premium is $3.29 a gallon.
O'Connor said he hadn't gotten any complaints about the high prices.
St. John resident Lisa Durgin was philosophical about an increase in gas prices because she said she had to drive no matter what.
"It's still cheaper than Europe," she said.
She said that in reality, island drivers don't go that far. She said that although driving conditions mean cars don't get the best gas mileage, the amount of gas used wasn't that great.
"It's not like we're in Texas where they drive hundreds of miles a day," she said.
Rutnik said prices on St. Croix appear to be stable, and are about $1 cheaper than St. Thomas.
On March 6, Hovensa announced it was cutting prices for its St. Croix customers.
"They dropped like 30 cents," said Adam Jaber of VP gas stations on St. Croix.
Unlike their St. Thomas and St. John counterparts, gas stations on St. Croix buy directly from Hovensa.
Jaber said VP prices currently ran $2.29 for regular and $2.39 for premium. The company has six locations all over St. Croix
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