Gas war sends prices plummeting

August 13, 2008 5:48:00 AM PDT
For hours, they competed by lowering gas prices, but now the battle appears to be over in northwest Harris County. It began yesterday and involved a Chevron and a Shell station on Spencer Road and Eldridge Parkway. For about 17 hours, both sides kept going lower. The prices went from a high of $3.36 to about $2 per gallon. Customers seized the opportunity to get cheaper fill ups. And others hope they will get another chance.

Even as late as 10pm Tuesday, one station was at $2.16 a gallon, the other $2.17. But today, prices are back up to about $3.30.

There was a big line of cars waiting to get into the fueling stations yesterday. For hours people sat in their hot cars all for cheap gas.

"We don't even live on this side of town," said one man.

The frenzy started early Tuesday morning as a promotion for a new Chevron station. Regular unleaded was $3.36. The cars lined up. The people at the Shell across the street caught on and the pumps at both places went wild.

"I cannot believe how cheap it is. I'm saving $30 today," said one driver.

Because of changing signs and word of mouth the lines quickly got longer wrapping around the parking lot, spilling into the street as the price kept dropping.

At 2:31pm the wells ran dry and that's when the waiting began.

With the promise of more trucks on the way, the gridlock remained although deputies cleared up the streets.

Twelve hours into the price war, a gasoline truck arrived to cheers and the pumps started to flow again. Two hours gone to save $20-30 bucks but the drivers there said it was worth it.

The owners of the station say they are losing money, but they hope to make it up with non-gas related sales.

To put this in perspective, the prices dropped $1.05 a gallon in 11 hours. In the past year, on the average in Houston, gas has gone up 98 cents a gallon.

Gas prices near where you live might not be this low, but you can find the cheapest fillup by zip code here.

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