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By Liberty Dones

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 18) – If Nebraska has the highest gas prices in the U.S. mainland with its $3.34 average price per gallon, it's got nothing on the prices of gas in the CNMI.

Quoting a nationwide AAA gas survey, the Associated press said that Nebraska has the costliest gas prices in the nation, edging Michigan to take the dubious honor of having the most expensive gas in the mainland.

At $3.34, the average price for a gallon of gas in Nebraska was down a little less than a cent from Saturday, but Michigan was down more than a cent and slightly lower than Nebraska, the report said. That puts Nebraska at 29 cents above the national average-$3.05 per gallon.

In the CNMI, though, average gas prices for regular in both Shell and Mobil were at $3.54 per gallon of yesterday afternoon. Their average price for premium or super was at $3.71 a gallon, while diesel was averaging at $3.66 a gallon.

This means the CNMI's average gas price of $3.63 per gallon is 58 cents higher than the national average.

Shell pump prices will further go up by 8 cents for regular and premium and 3 cents for diesel effective today.

Ruben Domingo, president of Shell Guam, said in a statement yesterday that the increase was due to increasing production cost in Singapore where the company sources its supply.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR archives, the CNMI began purchasing fuel directly from Singapore in 2005 to offset added costs that Mobil Oil was charging the islands.]

"As of our last price movement, oil product costs in Singapore, where Shell sources product, have trended upward and trade at historical levels. The increased rate requires us to adjust our prices to maintain in step with our cost," said Domingo.

Effective today, Shell prices for regular will be $3.62 per gallon, $3.79 for premium, and $3.74 for diesel.

Mobil has not issued a public notice of any price increase but the two companies have historically adjusted prices almost at the same time.

The AP report, citing the AAA survey, said that Wisconsin, Illinois and Hawaii join Nebraska and Michigan to round out the top five most expensive places to buy gas, all with prices between $3.28 and $3.34.

AAA gives South Carolina the cheapest gas ranking, at $2.83, followed by New Jersey, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, all between $2.83 and $2.89, the report said.

Another survey done by oil industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said regular gas prices averaged $3.06 a gallon, mid-grade was $3.17 and premium was $3.29.

It said the lowest price was in Tucson, Ariz., where a gallon of regular cost $2.80. The highest was in Chicago at $3.46, according to the Lundberg Survey of thousands of stations nationwide.

Industry officials have said short supplies due to refinery problems are driving up prices in the Midwest.

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