LOCK HAVEN - Gasoline prices in Pennsylvania are high ... or low ... or somewhere in between.
According to PennsylvaniaGasPrices.com, the average gas price in the state of Pennsylvania, for regular gas as of Monday at 2:33 p.m., was $3.415.
So why is it $3.50 at the Minit Mart in Pine Creek Township?
And why is it just $3.20 at the Lewisburg Sheetz?
Tracking prices can feel like a Tilt-a-Whirl to consumers. To the average person, it probably seems as if there's little rhyme or reason to how gas prices are determined.
Gasoline prices appear to fluctuate from state to state and county to county with no logic or level to use as a base of comparison.
As for the state's figure, that compares to $3.329 in New Jersey and $3.678 in New York. Predictably, Hawaii had the highest per-gallon price at $4.332, and the lowest rate was in South Carolina, which averaged $3.050 per gallon.
According to gas prices.net, the price of regular unleaded at Bitner's, 201 Susquehanna Ave., Lock Haven, is $3.459
At Fuel On, 10 S Hanna St., Lock Haven, it stands at $3.489; and at Bald Eagle Truck Stop, 612 McElhattan Drive, at least when reported five days ago, it was $3.499
At Minit Mart No. 241, 25 Woodward Ave., the price stood at $3.499 at the time of writing.
But check out gasoline prices different locations, and you get different stories.
At the Minit Mart in Pine Creek Township, the gallon cost stood at $3.50; at the Pantry in Avis, it was $3.46 on credit cards and $3.39 for cash; at the Exxon Uni-Mart in Jersey Shore, the cost was $3.46, and at the Jersey Shore Minit Mart, it was also $3.46.
At the Sheetz store along Route 220 at the Harvest Moon, the figure was $3.40, and at the Harvest Moon Sunoco, it was $3.46.
The Williamsport Kwik Mart? ... $3.38
The Nittany Oil Minit Mart in Newberry (East End) charges $3.40, as does the Sheetz along Maynard Street near Penn College.
So why does the Sheetz in Lewisburg charge only $3.20?
According to some experts, simply put, the local price reflects what the market will bear. If you have five gas shops set up in a dense area, the price tends to be lower. If you have few gas stations spread over a wide, rural region, they tend to be higher.
As for trending lower or higher, it appears, according to PennsylvaniaGasPrices.com, prices will remain stable statewide, at least for a time. On the other hand, that's not going to last by any significant degree.
Barring a cheap, readily available alternative that's easily used, we'll see a price hike in 2012 before all is said and done.
Average gasoline prices in the United States have jumped in 11 of the past 12 years, to a record high of $3.514 per gallon for all of 2011, according to the federal government.
The price - and any increases or decreases - remain hostage to a large number of factors, most of which can't be predicted. These include fluctuating demand, seasonal travel habits, the price of crude oil, the amount of inventory, government policy, inflation and speculation, just to name a few.