Orange County

Customers cash in as gas stations wage price war in Durham, Orange counties

When the new Sheetz gas station opened in mid-June, it sparked a gas-price war that has prices for a gallon of regular gas going for about 20 cents cheaper than in Durham, Chapel Hill and most of Hillsborough.
When the new Sheetz gas station opened in mid-June, it sparked a gas-price war that has prices for a gallon of regular gas going for about 20 cents cheaper than in Durham, Chapel Hill and most of Hillsborough.

At 92, Richard O'Simpson has learned the value of a dollar. So much so that he'll drive an extra mile to save on gas.

The last two weeks have been good for the Hillsborough retiree. He's taken advantage of a gas-price war that's saved him a few extra dollars, not cents, near the Hampton Pointe Shopping Center off Interstate 85.

The gas prices at the three stations near Exit 165 are about 20 cents cheaper than in Durham, Chapel Hill and most of Hillsborough. A station up an exit near the Daniel Boone Shopping Center has matched their prices.

They were selling regular gasoline for $2.39 per gallon Friday ahead of the July 4 holiday.

"I always look for the cheap gas," O'Simpson said.

He was filling up his pickup truck and several small gas cans for his lawn mower and yard machines. When he heard the good price on gas, he said he had to get some.

The stations locked in the gas-price battle include a new Sheetz, an Eagles and a pair of BPs.

Shirley Robinson, visiting from Texas, noticed the low prices last week. She was getting gas at the Sheetz because it was easier for her to get in and out.

"The Sheetz is new so they must be trying to get customers with their gas prices," she said. "That's why I stopped to get my gas here."

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, explains why the national average price of gasoline is now its priciest since July 2015. GasBuddy is a smartphone app that uses crowd-sourced information to track gas prices.

Sheetz, a Pennsylvania-base company, opened its station and convenience store at 1990 N.C. 86 South on June 14. It's at the old truck stop and right across the street from the Eagles. The Family Fare BP is across the bridge on the other side of the interstate.

Sheetz, which has about 30 stations in the Triangle, has done this before. When stations opened in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Apex and Morrisville, their gas prices initially were lower before climbing back to the range offered by other stations.

The cheapest gasoline Friday in Durham was at the Exxon at South Alston Avenue and N.C. 55 where customers paid $2.57, according to GasBuddy.com. Numerous other stations around town were within a couple of pennies of that price, including Costco and Sam's Club but you have to be members to get their gas at $2.56.

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Chapel Hill prices were about a dime higher with most stations charging between $2.69 and $2.79.

The national average for gasoline Thursday was $2.85, according to AAA.

Gasoline prices usually increase during the summer when refineries switch to making fuel that is less susceptible to evaporating. This summer blend gasoline decreases emissions that can contribute to unhealthy ozone and smog levels.

Gasoline prices declined during June but are expected to climb back up with the recent increase in crude oil prices.

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