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Why are gas prices now so similar across El Paso?

File photo: El Paso gas station(KFOX14)

When gas prices shot up in late August as Hurricane Harvey pounded the Texas Gulf Coast, I noticed something I can't remember seeing before in El Paso: gas prices that were virtually the same across the city.

I've certainly seen prices at the pump suddenly jump to a much higher price, but gas prices always seemed to be quite a bit lower on the city’s east side than on the west side.

This time though, the price of regular gas seemed to be right around $2.50 a gallon across town for a couple of weeks.

Patrick DeHaan, an analyst with Gas Buddy Dot Com, which tracks gas prices nationwide, told me that gas stations tend to play “follow the leader” when trying to figure out the price they should set in an unstable market.

That was certainly true when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, damaging and shutting down much of the state's energy-producing infrastructure and creating the panicked buying of gasoline.

Companies want to minimize their losses and control the demand for their gas supply, while still remaining competitive.

DeHaan said that it’s likely gas station across El Paso decided to settle at about the same price until the crisis passed and the market stabilized.

We are now starting to see gas prices separate between different parts of town, although it's still not that much cheaper in East El Paso now than it was in the recent past.

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