May 3, 2020

Jim Krumel: Lowest gas prices in 17 years stirs conversation

Jim Krumel: Lowest gas prices in 17 years stirs conversation

No “hello.”

Not even a “how are you doing.”

Mr. Dick Stadler “of rural Allen County” was in too much of a hurry to get out his “I told you so” when he called shortly before 9 o’ clock Thursday.

“It’s happening. I told you,” the familiar voice blurted.

“What’s happening, Dick, and what did you tell me?”

“Gas. It’s jumped to $1.45 a gallon. I told you once before that when you put in the newspaper that gas prices are falling, Big Oil will jack them up again. I told you.”

Dick loves to say “I told you” and “Big Oil.”

“Dick, I hate to break this to you, but I don’t believe ‘Big Oil’ reads The Lima News each morning to determine what they should do with gas prices.”

“No, but every time you put in the paper that prices are low, they shoot up. Every time!”

“Are you saying we’re a jinx, Dick.”

“Your words, not mine.”

And with that, Mr. Dick Stadler, an avid news hound from “rural Allen County,” hung up, sure to call another day.

He was right about one thing, though (keep in mind that Dick says so many things that he’s bound to get something right): Gas prices did find their way last week into the $1.45 range at most Lima stations, increasing from a low of 99 cents a gallon at a couple of stations.

It seemed like a good time to call the Professor of Gas Prices to get the lowdown. With that, we were on the phone with Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis at

He answered our call on the fourth ring and a minute later was on his computer.

“Let me take a look here, you said you are in Lima. … Yes, prices in Lima are at their lowest since 2003 on average — that’s 17 years.”

It echoes what is happening around the country, De Haan said.

“Millions of motorists are essentially staying home. The demand for gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel has absolutely plummeted. We’re kind of in unprecedented territory.”

“There has been somewhat of a floor that’s been established on the price of gasoline,” De Haan said. “Prices are now moving off their lows as some states starts to reopen. Demand for gasoline is rebounding.”

However, trying to figure out how quickly and how high gas prices will increase is like betting the jackpot when all you’re holding is a pair of deuces.

“We could be talking about summer gas prices that struggle to meet $2 a gallon. There will likely be a continued slow rebound, a pinch here and a pinch there,” was De Haan’s best guess.

That would be good news for consumers, but in the board rooms of Big Oil — as Dick would say — it’s another story.

Husky Energy Inc., owners of the Lima Refinery, announced a $1.7-billion first quarter loss last Wednesday because of lower fuel demand in the United States. Its two U.S. refineries in Lima and Superior, Wisconsin, are processing about 100,000 fewer barrels per day.

Husky CEO Rob Peabody told financial analysts “it was clear we were going to see supply and demand collide in a very messy way. … Our strategy is to keep as many barrels away from the train wreck as possible.”

To that, De Haan remarked, “I think our lows are now behind us. But how quickly we see prices go up, I don’t think this is going to be a slingshot.”

ROSES AND THORNS: An Elida grad stops by the rose garden as she hears the call to “come on down.”

Rose: To Jenna Witham, an Elida High School graduate now living in Columbus. She is going to be on “The Price is Right” today, which is broadcast in Lima at 11 a.m. on WOHL, a CBS affiliate.

Rose: To Calvin Goode of Lima, who says he’s a changed man and plans to go back in the pie business after being granted an early release from prison. Goode gained notoriety when his homemade pies were featured on the “Shark Tank” television program, but he ended up in prison on robbery, drug and weapons charges. Goode, 57, told Judge Jeffrey Reed the death of his father and other family members while he was behind bars has affected him tremendously. “I’m a totally different guy than I was before.” His daughter kept the business open during his two-year absence. The pies, made from a recipe Goode learned from his grandmother, were available for a time at select stores in Lima and Wapakoneta.

Rose: To June Augsburger, of Lima, who is celebrating her 100th birthday today.

Rose: Voters for Delphos schools approved a new five-year 0.50% traditional income tax, the first time in 15 years the district has received new money.

Thorn: Ohio retailers will not be allowed to reopen until May 12 — two days after Mother’s Day — and an opening day for restaurants and hair salons has yet to be set.

PARTING SHOT: You cannot have a rainbow without a little rain.

Jim Krumel

Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.

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