GAS HITS 4.26 A GALLON IN SAIPAN

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Shell, Mobil up prices 5 cents

By Haidee V. Eugenio SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 19, 2011) – Just a month after increasing pump prices by 8 cents a gallon, Shell Marianas and Mobil Oil Mariana Islands once again increased their prices for fuel products by 5 cents a gallon yesterday.

Shell increased its prices yesterday morning; Mobil at 3pm.

Regular unleaded gasoline at Shell and Mobil service stations is now $4.259 a gallon, from the previous price of $4.209 a gallon.

Super or premium unleaded gasoline at Shell and Mobil now costs $4.579 a gallon, up from $4.529 a gallon.

Diesel is now $4.519 a gallon at Shell and Mobil service stations, from the previous price of $4.469 a gallon.

Greg Basa, a resident of San Vicente, said he would like to know why the government has not stepped in to regulate gas prices, which continue to go up.

"I think the government, especially Department of Commerce, is not doing its job. Can't they control gas price? It's not only you and me who are suffering. Even the government is suffering, but why can't they do anything about it?" Basa said in an interview with Saipan Tribune while he was filling up his pickup truck at the Mobil service station on Middle Road in Garapan yesterday afternoon.

Basa said his $20 gas now lasts for just a day or two as prices continue to go up. He, his son, and other family members use the same truck to go to work and do errands, among other things.

Yesterday's price increase was the second for 2011, and the eighth since 2010.

Since February 2009, Saipan motorists have seen an increase of at least $1.55 a gallon in gasoline prices from what they used to pay.

Josephine Palacios, a Garapan resident, said Mobil and Shell are quick to increase their pump prices but are slow in rolling back their prices when they need to do so.

"It's really affecting everyone. Nowadays, we really have to save and cut expenses as much as we can," she said.

Palacios said if her route is only from her house to work at the airport area, her $10 gas could stretch to two days. But if she does her errands, she would need some $20 for her car for at least two days, she said.

Lawyer Robert Myers Jr., who was also filling up his van at a Mobil station yesterday, said with the increasing prices of gasoline, motorists may really have to maximize the use of their vehicles once they leave the house.

He said, for example, that instead of shopping for only a few items at a time, households may have to consider shopping for a lot of items at once to reduce trips to stores and thereby cut on gas expenses.

Aaron Taitano, of Dandan, said because he and his family wouldn't be able to control the gas prices, they could only cut their expenses, including on food and school materials.

He and his mother and other family members filled up their pickup truck with $10 gas yesterday, which his mother said would only be good for a day.

"What can we do?" another motorist said, when asked about how he thinks the latest gas price increase would affect him.

Other motorists didn't notice the increased prices until they were asked to comment about it.

Shell and Mobil do not issue advance notices of price increases. Many Saipan motorists only learn of such price changes by the price displays at gasoline service stations.

They said while the price of gas and other basic consumer goods have been increasing, their salaries have been decreasing because of the 16-hour pay cut per pay payroll and unpaid holidays for most government employees since October.

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