When asking someone once about why gas prices are so much lower in the Upstate of South Carolina compared to the Lowcountry – the answer was pipeline. I was told there is a gasoline pipeline going through the Upstate.
At first that made sense, but when I thought about it more – something doesn’t add up. If there is a pipeline, I’m sure it doesn’t go many places but to a central distribution hub. I don’t think every gas station in the Upstate has a spigot hooked up to their pumps from that pipeline.
The Lowcountry has several ports – Charleston, Georgetown and Port Royal – all hubs for gas arriving in tanker ships. Maybe it is more expensive to transport gas by ship than pipeline, but the pipeline has to come all the way from the Gulf Coast states or New Jersey – somewhere an oil refinery is.
On my recent delivery trip while the lowest gas prices for regular in the Lowcountry were in the $3.70 range. I was able to purchase gas in Rock Hill, SC, and Columbia, SC, for $3.50. In Spartanburg, SC, and Greer, SC, I could get it for $3.49 and $3.46. But the real surprise came in Clinton, SC, where gas was priced $3.41. That’s a big difference and I don’t think there is a pipeline in Clinton and I know they don’t have a port there.
Now some people say gas prices are high in the Lowcountry because of the tourists visiting. They say let the tourists pay higher prices – as if the people who live in the Lowcountry don’t have to pay the same price. I know I don’t get to pull into a gas station and show my local I.D. card for a discount. Besides I don’t know why it would ever be a good idea to charge tourists a higher price – especially now. This concept is just another one of those dumb logic things to justify higher prices.
In college I studied the concepts of supply and demand and the powers of competition. And, I would have to think that there is less competition in Clinton than in Charleston, by sheer volume of gas stations alone. But I must be missing something here because for the life of me I can’t see why people driving around Clinton are paying 30 cents a gallon less for gas than people in the Lowcountry. And, I’m talking about the lowest prices available – not those people who pay 20 cents higher at an Exxon station than the station two blocks away.
I know with as many miles as I drive each month for business and personal reasons – every penny counts and it all adds up at the end of the year. I never pass up a discounted gas price. Paying 30 cents a gallon less for gas is a big advantage in business and in an area’s cost of living.
Now, I also understand that some gas stations use cheap gas prices as a way to get people to come and spend more money in their convenience store, but shouldn’t gas stations in the Lowcountry use that same tactic to draw in more visitors with cheap gas prices? Maybe they can get subsidies from the businesses in the tourism industry.
And, there is no way to compare prices between North and South Carolina as NC has higher state gas taxes, but even then, sometimes I can find gas as cheap in NC as it is in the SC Lowcountry.
I guess I could always think about relocating to Clinton or Greer, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that.
Well, here it is almost time to hit the road again and gas prices in my area have finally caught up to prices from last month in the Upstate of SC. I can’t wait to see if the price is still 30 cents cheaper in the Upstate. I might even find an under $3 price.
That would be amazing, but unlike the late John Denver, I won’t be able to fill huge storage tanks full of cheap gas – to get a rocky mountain high.
P.S. Now a hurricane is headed into the Gulf of Mexico and speculators are driving the price of gas back up. Isn’t it nice to have people who make bets on the misery of others – before it happens – to make a profit.