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Gas prices drop below $4 in Dillingham

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KDLG News
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Just in time for a sunny Memorial Day weekend, Dillingham gas prices at record low for the past decade.

If this week is any indication, Memorial Day weekend 2016 will go down in the books for high temps and low gas prices in Dillingham.

Gas dipped below $4 per gallon at most places around town this week. That’s the lowest it’s been in at least a decade according to several people in town, including Julian Van. Filling up an old yellow bus at Bristol Express on Friday afternoon, Van said the the low gas prices make it easier to get out and enjoy the area.

“Now, you know, it seems like everybody’s traveling more," he said. "‘Cause, here you know, most people like to use their planes, skiffs, sno-gos, four-wheelers. We get to do more, hunt and trap and fish. And you can’t do that, you know, if gas is so high, it puts a hurt on everyone around here.”

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Vitus Energy CEO Mark Smith said that while Vitus has only been selling gas in town for a couple of years and doesn't have data back a decade, that sounded right.

"We've seen retail prices just across Alaska, and of course the Lower 48, being the lowest they've been in about a decade," he said. "So it follows that Dillingham would be in the same category."

Smith attributed the low prices are due to all the competition in town. There are four different entities selling gasoline in Dillingham right now.

"Dillingham is now a very competitive environment, and historically, it has not been very competitive," he said. "Add to that, we have seen crude oil prices and consequently refined fuel prices drop to very low levels, especially in January and February." 

Vitus bought its Lake Road gas station in 2014 when gas was going for nearly $7 dollars per gallon. Smith said prices have been going down pretty much ever since. But, he cautioned that the trend might be coming to an end.

"Prices have also gone up 60 to 70 cents since the winter low, and we expect the pricing for future inventory resupplies to be more in line with what last summer prices were," he said May 26.

Stelling’s was the first place to post prices below $4 per gallon. John Stelling didn’t plan to raise prices immediately, but agreed that the low prices probably aren't here for good.

Although no one can say exactly what price next month, or future fuel barges, will bring, Smith said they'll continue to reflect the local market, whatever that may be.

"In Dillingham, as it is in most markets where you have multiple providers, prices are a combination of supply cost and a competitive environment," Smith explained. "Vitus wants to be competitive, we want to give our customers the best value, and that may mean just meeting a competitor's price, or that may mean passing on savings as they come to Vitus. For us looking at Dillingham, that is our strategy, to combine those two market forces." 

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