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Tech. Sgt. Jason Farmer watches as Giancarlo Dall’Acqua puts some air in his tires Tuesday at the Agip station outside the gates of Aviano Air Base, Italy. Milvia Dall’Acqua waits to put gas into Farmer’s car. That gasoline will be a bit cheaper for Americans in Italy starting next month, even as pump prices rise for Italians.

Tech. Sgt. Jason Farmer watches as Giancarlo Dall’Acqua puts some air in his tires Tuesday at the Agip station outside the gates of Aviano Air Base, Italy. Milvia Dall’Acqua waits to put gas into Farmer’s car. That gasoline will be a bit cheaper for Americans in Italy starting next month, even as pump prices rise for Italians. (Kent Harris / S&S)

The price of a barrel of oil reached an all-time high Monday. And gas prices in Italy recently climbed several euro cents a liter.

So naturally, prices that Americans pay for fuel coupons next month are going … down?

For the second straight month, coupons sold at Navy Exchange Service or Army and Air Force Exchange Service outlets will cost a bit less. Prices are set to drop from $66 for 100 liters of unleaded fuel to $63 on Friday.

That’s about 11 cents a gallon, and comes on the heels of last month’s 19-cent-a-gallon decline.

Navy officials, who administer the program for American ID cardholders in Italy, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. But Americans reached at the pump reacted in predictable fashion.

“If it saves me money, that’s good,” said Tech. Sgt. Jason Farmer, who was filling up his tank at an Agip station just outside the gates of Aviano Air Base.

Farmer said he uses the coupons almost exclusively to buy gasoline. And with good reason: The price for Italians just rose to 1.267 euros at the station, which is operated by Giancarlo Dall’Acqua and his sister, Milvia.

So Americans will be paying half the listed price at the station — and that’s without taking the dollar-euro exchange rate into account.

Lia Scandola, an Italian national who works on base, filled up her tank Tuesday at the station as well. She was incredulous to find out that prices are dropping for the coupons.

“I pay $6 a gallon, and the Americans complain,” she said with a smile, but a hint of despair.

No, Giancarlo Dall’Acqua countered, she was “only” paying $4.50 or $5 a gallon. That he had it already figured out demonstrates how much business people such as Dall’Aqua have with Americans.

He said the coupons probably account for 60 to 70 percent of his business.

And, despite what some people might think, higher prices actually mean less money for him. He said Italians appear to be driving less.

The price of a barrel of oil closed Monday above the $60 mark in on the New York Mercantile Exchange — the highest level since the commodity started trading there in 1983, according to a report in the Detroit News.

A sharp rise in prices for the fuel coupons — likely with rising oil prices — would hurt Dall’Acqua’s business as well, because Americans would likely be driving less as well.

Tech. Sgt. Tim Shenk said his family doesn’t have much of a choice. They tend to buy all of the 400 liters they’re allotted each month for their two cars. That means they’ll save $12 in July.

“I have to because of where we live,” he said. “$12 is $12, but it’s still expensive here.”

Airman 1st Class Ryan Hake said it probably wouldn’t make any difference for him — pointing at his Ducati Monster motorcycle.

“Because 100 liters lasts me about four months,” he said.

Most Americans figure to save $9 in July, if they buy the full 300 liters they’re allotted. Some are only allowed 200 liters a month, though.

Allotments are based on engine size. Coupons are the only way to get discounted gasoline in Italy. There are no pumps for privately owned vehicles on base.

author picture
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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