Then the nervous laugh melted into a humbling realization. Most of the civilized world pays more for a tank of fuel than Americans do.
I found out the hard way that Grenada’s gas costs about $7 US per gallon, give or take a few cents. That’s a far cry from the $3.99 at my beloved street corner 7-Eleven.
As I drove away, the idealist in me decided to come along shotgun. What if I could figure out what makes Grenada’s gas prices so high? I would not only be a more informed citizen, person and American voter, but I would also save the world! As Newt has proudly proclaimed to CNN, “The price of gasoline is becoming a genuine crisis for many American families. If it continues to go higher it will crater the economy by August. People will have no discretionary income.”
The fate of the American economy was in my hands — along with the little island car’s steering wheel.
Let’s start with where Grenada gets its gas. Every drop is imported from Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. Next, I turned to Grenada’s web-published National Energy Policy, after turning off the car of course. They blame speculation, Middle East politics, concerns over nuclear policy (a la Fukushima) and the weather.
Here, my journey toward solving the world’s gas problems hit a brick wall.
When all your oil is imported, little bumps in the market turn into big roller coaster rides, complete with rocketing prices and bumpy bottoming out. Imagine that the shocks have been taken out of your car just before taking it on an off-road spin.
Oil prices are an uncharted path. We don’t know where they will go in the next few years, nor can we control all that speculation when Iran pulls a few political punches.
Frankly my dear, it’s volatile.
Using my little island home as a case study, bringing the petroleum home is a good idea. That ticking total at a Grenadian pump is simply a small reflection of what the people at the port have to pay when the barges roll in. If I chokingly laughed at my total, the guy at the port must be in hysterics. If you need something and you can’t get it yourself, it’s time to pay the man — and he can charge whatever he wants. You are the sucker in a bind, after all.
Another fun fact: Grenada doesn’t get oil, it gets gas. There isn’t a refinery to be found up or down its 25-mile coast. Once Americans get their oil from — gasp! — Canada, then it must be refined into the product you put into your tank. Once you add all the shipping and taxes and refining and importing and labor, you have one hefty fueling up cost.
Well, since I can’t solve the world’s problems after all, it was time to think about my own personal pain at the pump.
The rental car went back this week. This independent, red-blooded American living in a foreign land has rejoined the masses who either walk or take a bus. Frankly, being free of those gas prices is a little liberating.
Sarah Cooper-Glenn is a journalist from Sparks. She currently lives in Grenada where she is a global politics and travel writer. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.