Students feel pinch at pump

Josh Echt

Rich gas station, located across from front campus, raised its gas prices to $2.45 per gallon on Wednesday morning.

Credit: Jason Hall

Freshman exploratory major Conor Egan estimated his 2003 Cadillac Escalade gets a paltry 20 miles per gallon.

Despite rising prices, Egan says he isn’t worried.

“I get discounts on gasoline because my friend’s parents are connected with an oil corporation,” Egan said.

However, many aren’t as fortunate as Egan, such as senior business major Ryan Steele.

Steele, who drives a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, said he misses the good old days of cheap gasoline.

“When I started driving, gasoline cost $1.49 per gallon,” he said. “It’s gone up the past four to five years. It cost me $45 to fill up the tank completely.”

Fluctuating fuel costs are the result of supply-and-demand economics, said Donald Williams, associate dean of the Graduate School of Management.

“People’s expectations of future supply and demand contribute to the price fluctuations,” he said.

Concerns about Iran’s possible acquisition of nuclear power and recent revolts in Nigeria triggered uneasiness, contributing to the up-and-down state of prices. Iran is the second-largest supplier of OPEC oil, while Nigeria is the eighth-largest producer of oil in the world, Williams said.

Iran and Nigeria produce crude oil, which is converted to refined gasoline.

The cost of converting the raw crude to consumer-usable gasoline affects prices at the pump, Williams said.

“The price of crude went up $2 last Friday because of the conflict in Nigeria,” he said.

Another factor that affects gas prices are the burgeoning economies of India, China and other growing nations.

“Economic growth will continue as long as those countries produce goods that will be exported to the rest of the world,” Williams said.

Williams urges consumers to buy smaller cars, including hybrids, and to drive less. He said new-car buyers should take fuel economy seriously.

“If you look at the window sticker of a new car, the annual estimated fuel cost is shown next to the estimated miles per gallon,” he said.

Contact general assignment reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].