The price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at the Murphy USA station at WalMart in east Albany was $3.19 on Tuesday, 10 cents a gallon cheaper than its sister station in West Albany.
ALBANY — Anyone who has spent time driving back and forth across the Flint River from west to East Albany can’t help but notice that gasoline prices are lower on the east side. The big question is why?
The answer depends on whom you ask.
It’s a fact that gasoline can average 10 cents or more a gallon less, on the east side compared to the west side. On Tuesday, the per gallon price at WalMart on Cordele Road was $3.19, yet at the Walmart on Ledo it was $3.29. These two stores are just miles apart and it can be assumed that the gasoline for both stores comes from the same truck, right?
But it’s not just WalMart. Homerun Foods, Flash Foods and Enmark all offer cheaper gas on the east side. Those stores also average a dime’s difference per gallon compared to their west side counterparts.
So why the difference in price?
“Oh, there is a definite difference in price on each side of the river, but I don’t know why,” Oil Jobber Chuck Darsey of Darsey Oil said. “Prices have been around $3.20 inEast Albany and around $3.30 in west Albany all week, and I don’t see why because it’s all the same gas.”
While some in the business will talk about the price difference, others will not. When asked why he thought there was a disparity in gas prices on each side of the river, Lanier Oil President Hans Pomaroy had a terse response.
“I wouldn’t be interesting in commenting,” Pomeroy said Friday. “I really don’t want to get involved in that deal.”
Woodall Stores owner Wright Woodall has three stores in Albany and about to open a fourth on Jefferson Street. He has one store on the east side just across the Oglethorpe bridge, and he has a theory on the gas price puzzle.
“I have an idea why prices are lower in East Albany,” Woodall said. “They began to get lower when Murphy (Walmart’s fuel outlet) opened (in mid 2011) and began a price fight with Pilot on Cordele Road. Murphy is looking for volume sales and seems willing to sell under cost to reach that goal. Pilot responded and it created a domino effect with everybody else. It looks like (Murphy) still hasn’t reached the volume level they want.
“That’s left everybody over there fighting for volume.”
In other words, there seems to be an old-fashioned gas war quietly being waged in east Albany.
“Basically you’ve the same competitors in the east as you have in the west, but the situation is somehow different.” Darsey said. “In my opinion, you’ve got a few hard-headed guys over here. They are pricing cheap because they don’t want anybody to under-price them. It’s been that way for more than a year now. That’s just they way they do things.
“I have no idea how or when it will end.”
In the meantime, some west side drivers are making the short haul across the river to save money on fill ups.
On Tuesday, a man who asked not to be named, was filling up his pick up truck for $3.14 a gallon at the Enmark Station on East Oglethorpe.
“I live near Albany High School and come over here once a week to fill up my truck,” he said. “I can usually save a couple of bucks each trip. My parents and brothers and sisters do the same thing. It’s not a whole lot of money, but I appreciate it.”
According the gasbuddy.com, on of Friday, the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was $3.56 nationally, $3.43 in Georgia and $3.35 in Albany.