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Gas costs in Valley forced up by Tosco

Glen Creno The Arizona Republic April 14, 2001

A sharp and sudden gas-price increase by Tosco Corp. has irked consumers and dealers and sparked price hikes at competing stations.

The average price for self-serve, unleaded regular in the Valley rose 5 to 8 cents in the past few weeks, according to AAA Arizona, with increases at Circle K and other Tosco-supplied stations even higher.

Debra Margraf, head of the Arizona Automotive Trade Organization, said a West Valley Circle K raised prices from $1.43 on March 23 to $1.61 on April 5.

"The only time I've ever seen a move that big was during the Gulf War," Margraf said, adding that Tosco competitors are starting to nudge up prices. "Historically, other people didn't follow when Tosco raised prices," she said. "This time, they followed."

Tosco says the increases are necessary to shore up unprofitable Arizona and California gas operations.

"We're trying to bring our prices in line with the wholesale spot market," spokesman Clark Wrigley said, referring to gas prices on the open market in the industry.

Some don't buy it.

"As far as Tosco's concerned, greed drives gas prices," said Mike Johnson, owner of Mike's Sun City Unocal, a Tosco lessee.

-- Martin Thompson (, April 14, 2001


The only consolation is that it won't get as expensive as in the Chicago or San Francisco area. But it was very odd to see gas stations just across the corner from each other and $.20 per gallon different in price.

Guy in Mesa, AZ

-- Guy Daley (, April 14, 2001.

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