AAFES gas prices hit new high: $3 per gallon
May 20, 2007
Record-breaking gas prices in the States are fueling another record in the Pacific that’s hitting consumers smack in the wallet.
A gallon of mid-grade unleaded gasoline was to top the $3 mark starting Saturday at Army and Air Force Exchange Service filling stations in mainland Japan and Okinawa.
The new sell price brings all grades of AAFES unleaded fuel in the Pacific to more than $3 a gallon for the week of May 19 to 25.
Upon hearing the news that gas was climbing to $3.016 a gallon, AAFES customers in mainland Japan, who bought gas at Friday’s $2.974 a gallon, said fuel prices were getting out of hand.
“It’s a big deal, especially if you only have one stripe,” said Airman Bryan Peterson of Misawa Air Base, who estimates he spends about $40 a week on gas to keep his Nissan Cima running. He doesn’t own a bike and walking from the dormitories to his shop on the flightline isn’t an option because of the distance.
To keep from having to pay a high gas bill at one time, Mario Brown, 23, a staff sergeant at Misawa, said he makes more frequent trips to the pump, putting in $10 to $12 at a stop.
“It’s kind of crazy,” he said of paying $3 a gallon. “That’s a lot of money for gas. [Cost of living allowance] might need to go up more.”
AAFES sets its retail fuel prices weekly based on the most recent weekly average from the U.S. Department of Energy plus the incremental costs associated with providing motor fuel overseas.
In the States, the average retail price for unleaded gasoline nationwide hit a new record of $3.129 a gallon, according to survey results released Friday by AAA and Oil Price Information Service.
The previous record in the survey was $3.057, set Sept. 4 and 5, 2005, after Hurricane Katrina disrupted refinery operations and pipelines.
Some consumers in Japan said they were resigned to paying more for gas because of the stateside trend.
“It’s pretty much outrageous, but they don’t really have much of a choice but to raise prices, just like they are doing in the States,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Myra Ragland of the Defense Information Systems Agency at Yokota Air Base. “I guess it’s just one of those things we’ll have to live with.”
Air Force Maj. Randy Brown of U.S. Forces Japan at Yokota was a bit more optimistic: “In the long term, I think higher gas prices will be good for us because they will help wean us off of our dependence on foreign oil and push us towards alternative energy sources.”
Customers at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station are catching a break.
A spokesman there said Friday that mid-grade unleaded fuel was currently $2.55 a gallon, and $2.45 for diesel fuel. Retail fuel prices there don’t fluctuate weekly or monthly, the spokesman said.
“It only changes when the government pays more or less per barrel,” he said.
Stars and Stripes reporter Bryce Dubee contributed to this story.