S. Korea, Guam installations to feel gas pains
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Already record-high gas prices in South Korea and Guam are set to jump again by an average of 16 cents to begin the month of June, Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials said Friday.
Beginning Tuesday, premium unleaded gasoline on South Korea installations will shoot up from $2.02 per gallon to $2.18 per gallon. Regular unleaded will rise from $1.84 to $2.00, and diesel fuel will go from $1.73 to $1.79.
On Guam, premium will cost $2.20 and regular $2.03.
Officials defended the price hikes as necessary, given the rising costs of gasoline and crude oil worldwide.
“AAFES does not exist to make a profit,” according to an AAFES statement. “And any money generated on sales goes back to the military in [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] services.”
Nevertheless, consumers in South Korea are wondering why prices on bases overseas are mirroring record highs in the United States.
“The gas isn’t coming from the States, and we’re not supposed to be paying taxes on it, so why are prices still going up out here?” asked Darryl Brown, a civilian who works on Yongsan Garrison.
According to AAFES, gas sold at base stations in South Korea is bought on the local economy from the SK Corporation. The current contract is due to expire in June 2006, officials said, but under its terms, the supplier can vary its prices from month to month.
On bases in Guam and South Korea, gas prices are adjusted monthly. In Japan, they are not. Current AAFES prices are $1.64 for regular unleaded and $1.51 for diesel in Japan. The Navy Exchange currently is selling regular unleaded at its Japan bases for $1.43.
“Motor fuel costs for Korea and Guam are adjusted monthly by our suppliers. We in turn adjust the sell price on a monthly basis,” said Master Sgt. Donovan Potter, an AAFES regional spokesman in Okinawa. “Motor fuel for Japan is bought on an annual basis” because of Status of Forces Agreement rules.
In Seoul, at an S-Oil gas station just outside Yongsan Garrison’s Gate 17, regular unleaded was selling for $4.78 a gallon.
According to the Lundberg Survey, a California-based poll of 8,000 service stations throughout the United States, gas prices this week hit another record high average of $2.07 for a gallon of self-service unleaded. That represents a 14-cent jump over the past two weeks.
The soaring gas prices are becoming a hot political issue in the United States. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry blames the rising prices in part on Bush administration policies in the Middle East.
While the administration energy plan calls for drilling for more oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Kerry campaign says its policy would be to tap into the nation’s strategic oil reserve.
Bush campaign officials say Kerry has opposed legislation that would decrease the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.