Good question. The answer is no. Gasoline is a fungible commodity, meaning, it’s all the same. Within each class and type of gasoline–87 octane, 92 octane, high-performance, whatever–the gas you get from the Citgo on the corner of Main & Elm Street is going to be exactly the same as the gas you get from Chevron on First & Maple Street. Many oil companies offer gasoline wholesale to service station operators, and they’ll sell to whoever is buying, which means there’s no real difference between the gas from “budget” stations and those from others. The economics of gasoline pricing is very tricky and it has more to do with refinery capacity, transportation availability and the supply decisions of oil companies than anything else–and the emissions quality of gasoline is nowhere in the mix. The fungibility of gasoline, and the fact that stations buy from wholesalers or even from each other if they begin running low on supply, is also the same reason why these guerrilla consumer campaigns like “DON’T BUY GAS ON MAY 15 TO PROTEST HIGH PRICES” or “BOYCOTT CHEVRON UNTIL THEY STOP BUYING IRANIAN OIL” that you see in your email inboxes are totally ineffective.
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