By Candia Dames
20th September 2005
Trade and Industry Minister Leslie Miller on Monday announced a new round of gas price increases, indicating that one company has received approval to raise the cost on a gallon of gasoline to $4.77.
It would be a 76-cent per gallon increase for Shell Bahamas.
"Today, I am returning to appeal to the Bahamian driving public to do whatever they can to reduce their fuel consumption," Minister Miller said.
He suggested that motorists car pool; use smaller, more economical vehicles; use public transportation; and cut out the unnecessary driving.
"When I made these calls before many persons did not recognize the severity of this situation," he said.
The $4.77 price is the highest the cost per gallon of gasoline has ever been in New Providence, according to the Minister.
"This will push gas to well over $5 in the Family Islands," he announced.
Effective today, the price for a gallon of gasoline in New Providence will be $4.77 at Shell; $4.03 at Texaco; and $4.02 at Esso. The price for a gallon of diesel at Shell will be $3.62; at Texaco it rises to $3.64; and at Esso it increases to $3.26.
"These increases are truly amazing, since prices in The Bahamas are going up by more than 75 cents while prices in Florida reduced by about six cents on the weekend," the Minister said.
"It was also interesting to see that in France Total SA (The French Oil Company) recently pledged to pass reductions in prices to consumers within a few days, and to wait longer to pass on increases in order to protect the consumers from spikes.
"It was also interesting to note that the French Minister was unable to get any firm commitment from the foreign oil companies who were present at the meeting to assist with the prices or to invest more in refineries to help to rectify this situation."
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that crude-oil futures surged more than $4 – the biggest one-day price jump ever – amid worries that Tropical Storm Rita strengthening off the Bahamas could hit U.S. oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico later this week, striking another blow at an industry struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
The swells in crude, heating oil and gasoline futures came as OPEC ministers met to discuss how to relieve price pressures in the oil market and expressed concern that Rita would bear down on the hurricane-ravaged U.S. Gulf Coast, the AP said.
In The Bahamas, there has been a steady rise in fuel costs this year, which has also translated into a steady increase in the fuel surcharges of electricity bills.
The latest round of bad news comes as Minister Miller continues to push the PetroCaribe initiative.
Through the deal, Venezuela has agreed to provide fuel and fuel-related products cheaply to the region.
Minister Miller has said that it would mean huge savings on electricity bills and at the gas pumps.
He recently told The Bahama Journal, "We’re looking at an average savings of no less than $6 per barrel which equates to approximately in our estimation anywhere from 25 cents to 30 cents on a gallon of fuel.
"That’s the initial cost. Bear in mind that the oil companies here use their brokerage companies, in Barbados and Jamaica and elsewhere, to purchase fuel from PDVSA, which is where we’re going to get our fuel.
"By eliminating the middlemen, we save another 25 cents to 35 cents on a gallon of fuel. In addition to that, PetroCaribe is now in a position by having ships to lift the fuel for you. In other words, PetroCaribe would send one of its ships to The Bahamas full of fuel emanating from any of the terminals owned by PDVSA, which is the national oil company of Venezuela, thereby saving an additional 5 cents to 10 cents on a gallon of fuel."