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Opinion: A fuel monopoly would be bad for Southeast

  • Monday, January 18, 2021 12:29pm
  • Opinion

Garrett Johnson

The acquiring of Crowley Fuels by Petro Marine is major setback for the entire Southeast Alaska community. This, monopolt-creating acquisition, will inevitably lead to substantially higher gasoline and diesel prices in Southeast Alaska. I am confident, Petro Marine will gradually raise prices to just below the point where another competitor could come in to compete. If Petro Marine owns the entire oil infrastructure system in Southeast Alaska it would set a high threshold for any future competitor. This will of course pull hard-earned money out of our pockets and substantially raise the cost of doing business in all communities in Southeast Alaska.

All you need to do to predict the inevitable outcome of another monopoly in Southeast Alaska is to look at the example set when Northland Services was acquired by Alaska Marine Lines. Now we essentially have one company that runs container barges from Seattle to Southeast Alaska. If you dig back in your records to find the cost to ship a pallet from Seattle, you will notice about a 300% increase in just over 12 years. This is well beyond inflation and is a direct result of no competition. If you compare AML’s prices for routes they have competition for you will find they are forced to keep competitive business practices in those runs. If further proof is needed that these companies will not operate in good faith and for the best interest of the community is that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic AML chose to still increase their rates by 5% in December. With our communities so hard hit by the pandemic’s effect on tourism and the market prices of fish, the last thing we need is to create another monopoly that will lead to price gouging in our community. Petro Marine will follow the lead of AML and jack up the prices in Southeast in order to compete in other markets where there is competition. It is the government’s job to ensure that monopolies aren’t allowed to take advantage of the general public. We must do whatever we can to prevent this travesty by blocking it or making legislation regulating the retail price of gasoline and diesel in Southeast Alaska.

Garrett Johnson resides in Ketchikan. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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