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At Osan Air Base in South Korea on Friday, Army 1st Lt. Samson Folau of the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, Camp Humphreys, fills up at the AAFES gas station.
At Osan Air Base in South Korea on Friday, Army 1st Lt. Samson Folau of the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, Camp Humphreys, fills up at the AAFES gas station. (Franklin Fisher / S&S)

Gasoline prices are climbing again at military pumps across the Pacific and could flirt with record highs before year’s end.

The cost for all grades of fuel sold through the Army and Air Force Exchange Service jumped an average of about 10 cents a gallon Saturday in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and Guam.

That followed about a 14 cent jump the previous Saturday.

The latest adjustment puts the price back above $3 a gallon for every grade at AAFES filling stations. Mid-grade unleaded in mainland Japan and Okinawa now costs $3.023 a gallon — almost 80 cents more than a year ago. Diesel is $3.23 in Japan and Okinawa and $3.49 in South Korea.

Regular unleaded hit $3.176 a gallon at AAFES stations in South Korea, while premium jumped to $3.39.

On Guam, AAFES regular unleaded is $3.219, with mid-grade at $3.319 and premium now $3.429 per gallon.

Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station is the only Pacific base that doesn’t adjust fuel prices according to U.S. market trends. For the past several years, Marine Corps Community Services has maintained a minimum 35-cent-per-gallon profit on its fuel sales.

A spokesman there said Friday that mid-grade unleaded fuel was currently $2.69 a gallon, and $2.62 for diesel. Retail fuel prices there don’t fluctuate weekly or monthly and change only when the government pays more or less per barrel.

AAFES sets its retail fuel prices weekly based on a Department of Energy average from the most recent reports. It also factors in incremental costs that can vary widely in each country.

The average price in the States for regular unleaded sits at $3.112 per gallon, up from $2.759 last month and $2.229 at the same time last year, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Guy Caruso, chief of the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical division, predicted Wednesday that gasoline prices will rise another 10 cents by December, The Associated Press reported. A jump of 15 cents a gallon from current levels would surpass May’s all-time record of $3.23 a gallon.

“There’s not a whole lot I can do about it,” said Tellas Flores, a computer support specialist for Air Force gaming services at Yokota Air Base, Japan. “It’s cheaper than downtown (off base). There’s nowhere else I can go, so I’m a captive audience.”

At Osan Air Base, South Korea, Staff Sgt. Sung Suh said Friday he’s glad AAFES prices are cheaper than those off base or in the States, but also thinks a 25-cent bump over two weeks is too much.

“It would be better if they raise up the price like 10 cents. But not a quarter at a time,” he said. “But what can I do? I gotta drive. Pretty much, we don’t have an option.”

Army 1st Lt. Samson Folau of Camp Humphreys, South Korea, said he trusts AAFES is aiming to give servicemembers the best prices possible. But he’d prefer prices head in the other direction.

“I guess you get accustomed to it, and you get numb to the idea of it,” he said.

Navy Exchanges have followed AAFES pricing.

“Considering that I just moved here from Colorado, where I was paying $3.40 a gallon, the price of gas doesn’t seem all that bad here,” Frank Montone, a Defense Department civilian at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, said Friday. “In fact, on base we have nothing to complain about — out in the town, I paid 5,000 yen (about $48) for just half a tank, so we have it pretty good.”

Stars and Stripes reporters Chris Fowler and Franklin Fisher contributed to this story.

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