Lower-octane fuel, set for blending, to supplant plain regular
Sep. 14, 2013 10:58 PM
Iowa motorists who fill their gas tanks with “clear” gasoline without ethanol could soon be digging deeper into their wallets, say industry officials.
Pipeline companies transporting gasoline to Iowa terminals are just beginning a two-week conversion in which they are replacing non-ethanol regular gasoline with lower-octane fuel that must be mixed with ethanol or more expensive premium gasoline without ethanol.
The switch is driven by the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires an increasing amount of renewable fuels to be blended into transportation fuels on an annual basis, industry officials said.
The bottom line for Iowa motorists: Regular gasoline without ethanol will probably cost more, perhaps as much as 30 to 52 cents per gallon, according to one industry study.
“I don’t believe it will be up by 50 cents, but don’t think there is any question that the cost is going to go up from what you and I currently know,” said Mike Thornbrugh, manager of public and government affairs for QuikTrip Corp., which operates 24 convenience stores in the Des Moines area.
However, the cost for ethanol-blended gasoline — now used by more than 80 percent of Iowa motorists — isn’t expected to be significantly affected by the changes, other than regular market price fluctuations, said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
On Friday, the statewide average prices in Iowa were $3.62 for regular gasoline, $3.52 for midgrade gasoline and $3.85 for premium gasoline, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The changes are linked to the fact that Magellan Midstream Partners, a Tulsa, Okla., company that is Iowa’s largest pipeline operator, has been asked by its customers to begin transporting sub-octane gasoline (84 octane) to its Iowa terminals, effective the middle of this month.