Gas prices trigger public action

| 07/09/2015 | 35 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): With Cayman drivers still paying close to CI$5 per gallon for fuel, despite the massive fall in oil prices on the world market, a group of local people have come together to organize a public show of support to government and its plans to regulate the importers and do something about the “unreasonable” local gas prices. George Ebanks, the organizer of a march on parliament and a petition, said the bulk importers could no longer justify the prices they are charging, which are making the cost of living in Cayman far higher than it needs to be.

Ebanks said organizing the petition and the march is to encourage government to press on with the legislation to regulate the sector, which has been criticized by government for holding the economy to ransom. He said he wants the community to show the importers, Rubis and Sol, that they are behind the government’s plans to address the issue, regulate the sector and stop what many people feel is price gouging.

“Since January 2011, United States retail gas prices have fallen from US$3.99 a gallon to US$2.00 currently, a drop of US$1.99 per gallon (50.5%), while our local retail prices available in the Cayman Islands were CI$5.47 per gallon in January 2011 and now hovers around CI$5.00 per gallon, a drop of 47 cents, or 8.6%,” Ebanks explained to illustrate the reasons for forming the group and said Cayman is fed up with high gas prices.

He said that such a price difference against global oil and gasoline prices is neither reasonable nor justified. Although some stations were marking down prices a little Monday in comparison to global prices, Ebanks noted these were still nowhere near enough to reflect the real global fall. With the worldwide barrel rate at CI$36.86, the price in Cayman for one gallon is s enough to make tourists take picture of the fuel pump prices, Ebanks said.

“Our oil importing companies, Sol Petroleum and Rubis, can surely do better,” Ebanks stated. ”We firmly believe that they are being completely unreasonable and are to be partially blamed for our very high cost of living endured by each and every resident of these Cayman Islands.”

Ebanks also noted that whenever there is an increase in gas prices on the international market, local pump prices reflect that increase within a matter of two weeks, while any price fall can take as much as four months to reach the pump and it is usually a marginal decline.

For some time the current administration has attempted to talk with the bulk fuel suppliers about how they arrive at their prices and why there is such a massive difference, given the fall in the price of a barrel of oil. Government has also queried the significant lag in the time it takes for local gas prices to drop, but it seems the minister has had little joy.

The minister responsible, Kurt Tibbetts, expressed his frustrations with the importers at the last meeting of the Legislative Assembly and warned that unless they began to lift the veil of secrecy around their pricing, the government would introduce price controls.

Government plans to bring two pieces of legislation to the next meeting of the LA, which is now scheduled for October: the Dangerous Substances Law and the Fuel Sector Law, which will have a price control mechanism. However, the law to create the utilities commission to regulate the sector and create more transparency is not expected to be ready until November.

In the meantime, Ebanks is encouraging the wider community to support the group and make the fuel companies understand that the community supports government’s efforts to address the long-standing problem of unsubstantiated and ridiculously high gas prices. He urged people to sign the petition below, support the group’s Facebook page and sign the petition.

He also asked people to join the members of the group on their organized march to the LA on 19 October at 9:00am, from the old Glass House building on Elgin Avenue to the Legislative Assembly, where the premier, the planning minister and other MLAs have agreed to receive the petition.

Ebanks said the public demonstration would be a “call to action and confirmation” to government that they have the support of the people to find a solution to the price problem with the proposed the Public Utilities Commission Bill.

Anyone who wants to see local gas prices reach a justifiable reasonable level is asked to print off a copy of the petition below and collect signatures, including their own, and take it to one of a number of locations listed below or committee members.

For more details email: gaspetition2015@gmail.com

Committee members on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are Quincy Brown and Elvis McKeever, who have petition forms.

Petition forms are also available at:

George Town: at the GT Public Library and at all supermarkets (Fosters, Kirks and Hurley’s Supermarkets), the GT Post office, Airport Post Office, the PPM’s MLA office on Crew Road and the office of independent MLAs Roy McTaggart and Winston Connolly in the Elizabethan Square.

West Bay: at the West Bay MLA office (UDP) and Independent Minister, Tara Rivers, the MLA Office at Centennial Towers, 2nd floor, and at the WB Post Office.

Seven Mile Beach: at the 7 Mile Beach Post Office.

Bodden Town: at the PPM District offices in Savannah and the Bodden Town and Savannah Post Offices.

North Side: at the NS Post Office and the MLA Office of Ezzard Miller.

East End: at the EE Post Office and also MLA Office of Arden McLean.

George R. Ebanks- Petition Organizer 345-322-9369
Stanley Hill- GT Member 345-916-6333
Jeannine Thompson- GT Member 345-926-6551
Matthew Leslie- GT Member 345-917-3027
Denver Douglas- GT Member 345-916-7027
Tamara Pesic- GT Member 345-916-8580
David Miller- GT Member 345-926-3918
Chester Watler- BT Member 345-916-1529
Eddie Powell- BT Member 345-916-4050
Quincy Brown- C/Brac Member 345-924-8446
Elvis McKeever- C/Brac Member 345-916-1377
Charles Whittaker- West Bay Member 345-923-5122
Jean-Eric “Notch” Smith- WB Member 345-929-8646
Yusuf Farouk- EE/ NS Member 345-939-4728
Dennis Connor- EE Member 345-916-7188

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Comments (35)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This government appears hell-bent on destroying enterprise, small businesses and Joe Average with its spiteful policies, excessive regulation, endless paperwork and high cost of living.
    They are either too arrogant or blind to think that this can continue. They have obviously thrown their bibles away, but I can assure them that the cries of the people have reached the ears of the Lord of the Sabaoth. Not long now. Hold tight everyone, this is going to be a rough ride.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for the HONOURABLE (not) Tibbetts to get off his ample behind and help his people. In all the years this useless snoozer has been warming his seat in gubermint, what EXACTLY has he done? I will tell you. NOTHING, and this won’t be any different. Tired of these Lodge dudes. Just watch what he does(n’t).

    • Kurt Kurtdashian says:

      Whoa there sonny. Hear me now. I say all a that to say this. Give him time. He is still toiling away on the new speed limit signs for Sound Way.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hurray lower gas prices. It’s long overdue Z something called punitive fines should be discussed for past wrongs. Need to get the prices down fast

  4. Haranguer says:

    Sol and Rubis together Are clearing at least 100 million dollars extortion money on us over and above what is the normal profit of 15% for gas distribution companies, at least a dollar per gallon for every gallon of fuel that comes into this country, and those idiots who we call our leaders cannot see that! Fix it for Christ sake.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Agree that prices across the board should be looked into. We need a movement like how the Americans are getting fed up with establishment politicians while the rich and lobbyist get richer the poor is getting poorer. They tell us that we should buy locally and to my disbelief a small, very small bottle coconut water is almost $3.50 and it is not imported! Like telecoms CUC should be liberalized.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Any demand for fuel legislation change should be reasonable and linked specifically to USA EIA refined product prices (eg. NYMEX New York Harbor Reformulated RBOB Regular Gasoline Future or other wholesale pricing standard) and not to generic crude future prices. We don’t put WTI or Brent in our cars. This should include an actionable template for the LA, including some kind of transparent pricing record. I’d also like to see the Fuel Inspectorate’s remit expanded to include ongoing annual supervision and annual certification of quality at each retail pump and subterranean holding tanks.

  7. Fed up too says:

    One measure taken when this government was last in power, was to require each retail station to display signs showing the price they were selling gasoline and diesel.

    Maybe we should approach this a different way. As the general public, we should pool together and try to only support the gas station that is selling the fuel at the lowest price in our respective districts. Sooner or later, the gas station that is not getting any business will be forced to lower their prices to get customers back.

    If it is that the retailers can no better do because the bulk sellers are selling to them at a high price, the pressure will go back up the supply chain and it will hit and impact the players more-so than a march.

    As consumers, we have a lot more power than we know, we just have to wield it effectively.

    If you are dead set on an overt expression of dissatisfaction, I would suggest you check the petroleum inspectorates’s website, see which station is selling fuel for the highest price, and go protest in front of it.

    I bet after a few hours of shaming and customers not pulling in to buy gas, they will go out and lower the price to avoid the embarrassment and attention, you can then move on to the next highest station and so on and so fort until the price gets to a reasonable level.

    That will be a lot quicker and a lot more effective than a march on the Legislative Assembly

    • Rp says:

      It won’t be effective because in an oligopoly as it is the case in cayman, collusion between the two companies would see all gas stations selling at the same high price. The two companies would never engage in a price war as this will only be detrimental to both companies.

      The only ways I can think of having lower pricing at the pump in the case of an oligopoly is for government to open the market to more companies or regulate the price or profit of the company.

    • Fed up too…you can take on that one as your project. We will petition and hope to get as many signatures as we can. We will let Govt know that we the PEOPLE support them in regards to these laws and their aims and objectives.
      We will also march!

      I hope that you will find time from protesting in front of those gas stations who are ALL selling at about $2.75 TOO EXPANSIVE already to join us on the morning of the 14th Oct. at 9am as WE THE PEOPLE MARCH.
      I thank you for your support @ Fed up too.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks George, the power of economics in a demand and supply market work on a daily basis, when was the last time you saw a march or a petition getting anything accomplished in Grand Cayman … other than negative publicity for our country. I remember the biggest one I ever saw when Kurt was walking down the street with a wheelbarrow filled with petition forms and nothing happened as a result. I am putting my energy where it will be most effective by only supporting the retailer who is selling at the lowest price. I may be only one drop in the ocean, but if I’m joined by others, we can create a sea change in the market that unfortunately will not be achieved by a march on the LA

    • @ Anonymous 12:08….but you can’t be serious. Are you? The free-est of the FREE. The good old USA..they heavy-ly regulate their banks; their big businesses (have you heard of their anti-trust laws- Glass Stegall etc?)…yes..yes..that’s for regulation.
      But I guess since poor Pres Obama is in office, you will say…” well..the USA is also a socialist country”!
      NO they are not @ 12:08pm

      • Anonymous says:

        George, if you continue to engage in answering the bloggers your efforts are going to lose ground. Spend your time on making sure you get as much signatures as possible, that will be time well spent

  8. Anonymous says:

    If the government put regulations on every company, then it would be a dictatorship, I think that’s what they call it, that’s what China has right? Unless Government is willing to pay for the losses the Gas Stations will make if they are forced to reduce prices, then this petition will go nowhere. I’ve got lots of gas, and all it costs me is a can of baked beans.

    The Real Real Real WaYaSay

  9. Anonymous says:

    In addition to marching and petitions, how about encouraging the community to limit their use of fuel . Car pool to work or simply make a concerted effort to not drive around aimlessly, limit your purchase of goods at the gas stations, try to use less electricity if possible, petition the government to allow and incentivise new suppliers of electricity into the market. The only way people/ companies get the message is when their bottom lines are affected. When we demand less and purchase less regardless of how much disposable income we have it starts to create a deflationary impact. The problem isn’t the government or the gas stations, they will allow or continue to charge you the consumer what you are willing to pay for a product/ gas. We can actually force and drive change if we are willing to embrace some short term pain ( leave the a/c at 78 degrees instead of 72 degrees amongst other things). Cayman’s problem is also exasperated by the fact that there is only one supplier of electricity and two suppliers of fuel. Do you remember about 10 years back when you needed to have a second job to pay for your internet, cable and phone bill, but new competitive suppliers have changed this dramatically.

  10. Anon says:

    What about propane???

    • Gasbag says:

      Propane is fantastic. I run my stove, clothes dryer and water heater off a 200 pound tank that lasts more than a year between refills. And a refill costs less than $100.

      But shhhh. Don’t ANYONE tell CUC!

  11. Cayman Bobo says:

    Can I take my Escalade? I ain’t marching in this summer heat unless I can drive the full 500 yards in my suv.

    But first I need my favorite MLA to give me a “li’l hep” with the gas. If I could only call him but I a little short on top up. I got a new S6 but I can’t pay for all my social networking data.

    Dem Cubeans and Haitians don’t know real sufferin.

  12. Anonymous says:

    same for cayman airways…how can they justify charging $500 for a flight to miami???

    • Anonymous says:

      Because your government allows them to.

      • Turtle Clubbing says:

        Therein lies the main issue. Cayman Airways IS the Govt. All part and parcel of one huge amorphous blood sucking squid wrapped around the neck of the local consumer.

        Govt’s role should be the regulation of the business sector to ensure consumer protection but it should not be directly involved in owning businesses that need such regulation.

        But as long as everyone insists on free tickets for family and no bag limits for the Miami/Kingston airborne minibus nothing will ever be done to reduce the burden on the taxpayer wallet.

    • Diogenes says:

      I checked online, and depending Cayman Airways was offering fares at the same price as AA, $340 to $360 depending on exact schedule and how far ahead you booked. So I guess the answer to your question is a) they don’t and b) the price they charge is the market rate.

      • Fed up too says:

        Do some research Diogenes, existing Cayman legislation prevents the foreign carrier from undercutting the local carrier. In other words, Cayman Airways sets the market price on the routes to and from Grand Cayman that it flies.

      • Anonymous says:

        cayman airways set their prices….and no-one is allowed undercut them on the same route out of cayman…….caymanian protectionism…..

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually I don’t think it is a free market. I believe the agreement is Cayman Airways sets the price and nobody can charge less on those routes. This was put in place to protect Cayman Airways as the other larger airlines have economies of scale and cut make prices so low that kx would close.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bulk of the ticket cost is for CIAA landing and passenger fees (also a big factor in demise of our local airshow and Cayman Caravan). Keeping that in mind, our national carrier, CAL, prefers not to pay these on to CIAA and has a legacy of owing millions in back fees – ultimately the CIG settles these like the loan of 2010 for $10mln. $10.5mln in back-CIAA passenger fees alone were owed as at Jan 2015, or 20% of the CIAA’s projected airport reno budget in the form of a receivable from a chronically delinquent entity. Guess who pays twice? You and me.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman airways…funny airline…flew American to Denver plane broke down and had to fly Cayman airways back from Miami….most of the other passengers US people.refused to fly Cayman Airways and waited until another carrier picked them up. Cayman Airways was empty about 25 seats when American was rammed full ….thats why they lose money because mostly.Caymanians fly them…need to invest in marketing and new planes…a bannner in Miami tacked on wall looks so cheaply done if I were a tourist I would question this el.cheapo looking airline. That then trys to charge big buck

    • JAT says:

      Most people fail to realize what you get with Cayman Airways. With most other airlines, prices vary depending on what seat you are placed in within a class. For example, window, aisle, and seats in emergency exit rows are sometimes priced higher, whereas Cayman Airways charges the same, no matter the seat location. Furthermore, Cayman Airways gives every customer two check bags up to 55lbs, one carry on item, and one personal item. Most other airlines charge for each item.

      Yes, it may be expensive, but when you consider what is included with the ticket, it doesn’t seem so bad.

    • I agree 100% @9:27am. It is hoped that a fall in fuel/ diesel prices will also result in “across the board” price reductions; including air line ticket prices and even your gallon of milk.

  13. Anonymous says:

    same regarding groceries…. lower oil prices should lead to a reduction in everything imported into cayman….

    • Anonymous says:

      There’s some truth to that, but unfortunately food prices are going up by more than the oil price component is coming down. Global warming and specific outbreaks of disease are hurting farming of key foodstuffs while demand is increasing with continued population growth. Consumer tastes are also becoming more sophisticated with recent exposure of farming and rearing practices which is increasing production costs. We are paying for what we are getting (and causing).

  14. Anonymous says:

    gas companies are now price gouging when they can…because they know there will be government intervention soon…..
    but then again our governmet is ppm and we have sleepyhead hurt ‘looking’ into it…

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank God it is the PPM…they at least won’t be asking “what’s in this for me,,?” Before taking action.

      • Cowcakes says:

        An excellent observation. I am unaware of any PPM politician with involvement in the sale of fuel.

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