Gas prices on rise for troops in Italy, again
May 24, 2008
NAPLES, Italy — Surprise, surprise. The cost of fuel in Italy is on the rise.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Gary Bromm’s surprise was facetious, but his anger was not. "Again? I’m tired of paying so much," the 35-year-old master-at-arms, stationed at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy, said when told fuel coupon prices were going up again on June 1. "We’re already paying more [per gallon] than in the States. Is this right?"
The price for a 100-liter booklet for unleaded gasoline increases from $111 to $118, and diesel increases from $132 to $140, said Bart Di Muccio, administrator for the Tax-Free Office in Naples, which runs the gas coupon program. The booklet prices translate to $4.46 a gallon for unleaded, and $5.29 a gallon for diesel.
"I understand we don’t pay as much as the Italians, but we have to be here. It’s not like we can go back to the States where they pay less," Bromm said. "And the [cost of living allowance] doesn’t reflect how much more we’re having to pay for gas."
The fuel increase is linked to rises in fuel costs passed to the Navy from distributors, Di Muccio said. In one month, the price charged to the Navy for unleaded fuel increased 26 cents a gallon, while diesel increased 30 cents a gallon.
The Italy coupon program, in which consumers buy coupons at Navy Exchange and Army and Air Force Exchange Service outlets, is a not-for-profit endeavor, Di Muccio said. So while distributors charge the program more for the dispensing of fuel, the hike for the consumer between May and June is 6.31 percent for unleaded, and 6.06 percent for diesel.
Each month, Di Muccio’s office sets prices for fuel coupons bought by U.S. and NATO members serving in Italy by calculating changes in the barrel price of oil, fluctuations in the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the euro, and any gains or losses the Navy Exchange and the AAFES incurred in the previous month’s sales, Di Muccio said.
Americans and NATO personnel stationed at military bases in Italy don’t have access to on-base stations, and instead redeem the coupons for fuel at participating Esso or Agip stations. Saturday, AAFES’ prices elsewhere in Europe will increase by 4 cents a gallon, pushing the cost of fuel past the $4 mark for the first time for many motorists.