Gas prices in northern Beaufort County are 20 to 30 cents higher than in Bluffton and parts of Hilton Head Island, and the difference is starting to irritate some people.
"The question is becoming how far are we willing to go to get gas to avoid being ripped off?" Dataw Island resident Bob Hopkins said.
AAA Carolinas does not track gas prices in the Beaufort and Hilton Head Island area, but spokeswoman Angela Vogel Daley pointed to websites such as GasBuddy.com, which is updated by residents, as an indicator of the price difference.
The difference is substantial in some cases: the lowest price in Bluffton Monday night was $3.27, but at a gas station in Port Royal gas is $3.64 per gallon.
Overall, gas prices in Bluffton are between $3.35 and $3.44, according to GasBuddy. Beaufort prices are between $3.44 and $3.63. In Ridgeland and Yemassee, that increases to $3.72 to $3.82.
Why the price ticks up as people drive north -- and why those prices are remaining high -- is a reflection of the market, Vogel Daley said.
"It's just natural competition, and the retail prices are based on what they expect their next shipment to be," she said.
Distribution can affect prices some, as AAA typically sees gas prices slightly higher in areas that are not as easy or close to get to, such as the mountains, she said.
When relief could come is unknown.
"If all the gas stations in an area are paying that much and people don't really have an alternative, they might keep them there a while, unless they know their next shipment might be less," Vogel Daley said.
As of today, AAA Carolinas reports the average price of a gallon of fuel is $3.41 in South Carolina. Charleston is averaging $3.469; Columbia is averaging $3.397; Greenville-Spartenburg-Anderson is averaging $3.349; and Myrtle Beach is at $3.391.
Check back with The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet for updates to this story and follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
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