Maine consumers who are in the market for premium or midgrade gasoline may have to drive around awhile to find it.
While regular gasoline remains abundant at about $3.60 a gallon, those looking for premium petroleum not only are finding it much more expensive, some aren’t finding it at all.
A number of gas stations in Greater Bangor on Monday were not carrying anything above 87-octane unleaded.
On Monday morning, the Elite Auto Shell station on Hammond Street advertised regular unleaded at $3.54 a gallon, but the numbers for higher-grade gas labeled “plus” and “v-power” were stuck at zero.
Kim Leicht, the station’s manager, said they hadn’t carried any premium-grade gas since Sept. 21, although by Monday afternoon, supplier C.N. Brown had delivered 500 gallons each of mid- and high-grade.
“From what I hear, there was trouble with the pipeline, although I’m not sure where that pipeline is,” she said. “But it didn’t seem like this would be a long-term issue.”
Jamie Py, executive director of the Maine Oil Dealers Association, said Monday that he hadn’t heard of any specific problems with mid- or high-grade, but predicted that any supply issues would be temporary.
Py said that a couple weeks ago, the market saw a big spike in what he called the spot price of high-grade gas.
“Companies that had contracts made a commitment to a specific wholesaler throughout the year,” he explained. “The other option is having no contract, which is often cheaper but also is subject to bigger temporary spikes, which is what happened.”
To be more specific, he said, gas companies are less likely to buy large quantities of high-grade gas at an inflated price because they won’t be able to sell it to consumers. So instead, some stations are waiting it out and that means running out altogether.
The high-grade price issue comes at a time when overall prices of fuel are dropping in Maine.
According to AAA, a gallon of diesel fuel was averaging $3.98 a gallon Monday. That’s 34 cents cheaper than a month ago and 82 cents lower than the peak of $4.90 a gallon in July, but it’s still 84 cents higher than a year ago.
Regular gasoline in Maine is now averaging $3.59 a gallon, about a dime cheaper than a month ago and five cents below the national average.
Leicht said, in general, the price differential between regular and midgrade, and mid- and high-grade has been about 15 cents.
While regular unleaded is generally the primary fuel grade for consumers, Leicht said her station still sells about 2,000 gallons every month of the two higher grades.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.