In a time of rising gasoline demand and refinery bottlenecks, the US could use more octane as the spread between premium gas (octane level of 93) and regular gas (octane level of 87) has blown out.
Premium fuels eliminate engine knock in high-performance vehicles that have high compression engines. For most vehicles, using regular gas is advised and cheaper. Wholesale premium fuel sells for 62.50 cents more per gallon, a record high.
Bloomberg explains the blowout of the spread is due to "low supplies of octane," which may exacerbate gasoline supply tightness this summer for premium fuel, adding it could send regular and mid-grade gas higher, contributing to further price increases.
"Expensive octane and shortages in conversion-unit capacity are plaguing global gasoline supply. Although gasoline cracks are moderating as refiners return from turnarounds in June, thin stocks this summer mean there is little buffer ahead," according to a report from Energy Aspects.
So there's a situation where gasoline demand continues to increase in peak driving season as refiners are constrained by octane availability, which has made supplies for premium fuels less abundant, driving up gas bills for luxury car owners. Those thinking of trading down for mid-grade or regular in a luxury car to save 60 cents a gallon might want to rethink the move. Extended use of regular gas could result in engine problems down the road.