The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs is urging drivers to be smart consumers as the territory, like the rest of the world, confronts rising fuel prices.
“The price of fuel is estimated to continue to rise in the near future. As the price of a barrel of crude oil steadily increases, production at refineries are unable to meet the demand for fuel, and the war in Ukraine continues,” as mentioned in multiple news outlets, including CNN, USA Today, and the Washington Post, DLCA Commissioner Richard Evangelista said in a press release Wednesday.
“As such, the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs reminds consumers to use the price information provided by DLCA’s bi-weekly surveys or use the real-time prices found on the mobile phone application SaveMore VI to identify the most affordable fuel on each island,” said Evangelista.
On July 28, 2021, DLCA issued an Order Setting Forth the Procedure for Increase of Fuel Prices in which fuel stations are required to request permission from DLCA prior to increasing their price to the consumer, the release said. Each request for an increase in price must be accompanied with an invoice for the fuel purchase and an invoice for transportation costs to deliver the fuel. If a fuel station increases its fuel price without obtaining prior authorization is subject to a fine of $200 per day of such violation, it said. The retailer is also subject to a fine of $200 for each day it increases its price over the price authorized by DLCA.
DLCA met with retailers throughout the territory on or about the first quarter of 2020 to learn about the overhead costs to operate a fuel station, the release stated. During the interviews, DLCA learned that the cost to operate a fuel station is drastically different for each station, it said. There is one common denominator affecting the bottom line of operating a station in the territory: the cost of electricity. However, the difference in markup between stations is whether a station is leased, mortgaged, or owned, the release noted. As such, the difference in price between the stations.
Currently, in the district of St. Thomas and St. John, the retailers are unable to purchase fuel from The Gulf Oil Rack located at The Lime Tree Terminal on St. Croix, according to the release. Instead, they must purchase fuel from Puerto Rico, which adds an additional cost of sea transportation to the fuel in that district, it said.
DLCA will continue to monitor fuel prices throughout the territory while simultaneously holding fuel retailers accountable for their actions, said Evangelista, who also encourages consumers to support the retailers with the most affordable fuel prices to force the other retailers to decrease their prices.
For the latest and past fuel survey results, as well as rack rate prices, visit the DLCA website at www.dlca.vi.gov under news/surveys. For consumer-related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 340-713-3522 on St. Croix, 340-714-3522 on St. Thomas, or St. John at 340-693-8036. Facebook at @dlcausvi.