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Causes of Gasoline Price Fluctuations

Causes of Gasoline price fluctuations
Introduction
Over the past decade, there have been continued oil and gasoline price fluctuations in the world. These price fluctuations have been facilitated by the increase or decrease crude oil prices in the international market. These price fluctuations of oil and gasoline has hard profound effects on many economies and business across the world. It has become difficult to forecast the prices of these two precious commodities with absolute certainty. There have been times of great panic over the increase in prices levels of oil and gasoline. Nevertheless, there has been some relief time when pump prices of these two products go down. High fuel prices have always caught the attention of policy makers, politicians, and the general public at large (Krichene, &Fondsmonétaire international, 2006). The usual response from the public has been an agitation aimed at the energy regulatory bodies to reduce pump prices of oil and gasoline. The public, some politicians, and policy makers have been quick to blame regulatory bodies and oil dealers (importers) for conspiracy to manipulate oil and gasoline prices. With increased awareness, the public has begun to learn the exact causes of fluctuation in fuel prices (Ginn, 2012).
Causes of price fluctuations of gasoline
There are different factors that cause gasoline prices fluctuations. The price changes of gasoline prices have been largely caused by the rising demand for the commodity in the world today. The fast growth witnessed in emerging market economies today has instigated the increase in demand for gasoline and other fuel products. The increased demand is not marched by the global supply of crude oil, which has been constrained. This scenario has led to the gradual increase of gasoline prices in the world. Conversely, the recent deceleration in demand of the product resulted to price reductions. When the prices of crude oil decline at global stage, it leads to decline in gasoline prices (United States, Federal Trade Commission, 2005).
Market factors are the major causes of changes in gasoline prices over the years. Most oil refineries import oil from oil producing nations. These refineries have to compete at the global stage for the purchase of crude oil. When global crude oil price increase, the refineries are compelled to buy the crude oil at high prices. The high cost of crude oil is then passed to consumer because the refineries have to recover high input costs. This tends to push the prices of gasoline upwards (United States, Federal Trade Commission, 2005).
Furthermore, regulatory factors also play a key role in determining the prices of fuel in the world today. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a body that coordinates the pricing of crude oil prices. OPEC is a cartel arrangement that produces the largest quantity of crude oil in the world and thus has a strong influence on the prices of crude oil. OPEC has the influence on the supply of crude oil. In this case, when the OPEC increases supply of crude oil in the world, it leads to price decline of gasoline. On the other hand, when it limits the supply of crude oil, prices of gasoline tend to increase (United States, Federal Trade Commission, 2005).
Furthermore, swings in consumer energy prices have been a major cause of crude oil price fluctuations. Consumer price inflations have played a significant role in the recent price fluctuations. The increased demand for gasoline pushes the prices of this product from time to time. As the demand continues to rise, the rate of gasoline price also increases simultaneously. In addition, instability in major currencies can be blamed for the fluctuations in the gasoline price. Changes in foreign exchange values have an important impact on the fluctuation of gasoline prices (Gallup & Newport, 2009).
The recent concerns about environmental pollution can also be taken as the cause of price increase in gasoline. For instance, in the United States, state and federal regulations require blending of gasoline to reduce air pollution. This increases the cost of production, which leads to an increase in the cost of gasoline. Moreover, state and federal changes in taxes levied on gasoline may also affect the fluctuations in gasoline prices (United States Government Accountability Office, 2005).
In Georgia, there have been minimal variations in gasoline prices over the last five years. Prices have been subject to changes owing to different factors prevalent in the country. The pricing of gasoline in the country is largely influenced by the forces of demand and supply. In the year 2010, gasoline supplies were hampered by the repairing of Enbridge pipeline. This caused low supply of gasoline in Georgia, which pushed gasoline prices upwards (Ginn, 2012). For instance, the price of gasoline per gallon in Peach State was pushed to $2.61 from $2.56 within a month and from $2.34 almost one year ago. Furthermore, fluctuations in crude oil prices have impacted on gasoline prices in Georgia. High crude oil prices in 2010 greatly impacted on the prices of gasoline which differed from one retail station to another to constrained supplies. This resulted in increased gasoline prices hence affecting demand at the same time (Ginn, 2012).
Conclusion
There are many causes of changes in gasoline prices. The factors that cause these changes include market forces of demand and supply to the environment, as well as regulatory factors. All stakeholders including refineries, retailers, consumers, and policy makers should understand these factors for proper measures to be taken to try and stabilize the prices.

 


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