California Gas Prices Soar to an Average $5.39 Per Gallon

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Springtime maintenance at refineries has created a shortage, and the state’s eco-friendly summer blend is also a contributor.

California gas prices are hitting new records each week, soaring to an average price per gallon of $5.39 on April 10—a record jump of nearly 20 cents over last week’s average.

The price hike is the biggest one-week jump for 2024, according to Automobile Club of Southern California spokeswoman Marie Montgomery.

“The bad news is that we are seeing some record run-ups for this year,” Ms. Montgomery said. “That’s primarily because Los Angeles wholesale gasoline prices have increased more than $1 from their lowest point this year.”

The increase is a result of a combination of events. Planned and unplanned maintenance at the state’s oil refineries, a regular springtime occurrence, has created a shortage. The state also uses a unique eco-friendly summer-blend fuel that is only manufactured in California.

And with the gas supply shortage, California retailers are forced to import gasoline from overseas, which also drives the price up, according to Ms. Montgomery.

But even with the price hikes, California consumers are continuing to buy gas, she said. That is also adding to price increases.

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“Hopefully, people will really start thinking about their usage and the trips they need to take, and all of those things,” Ms. Montgomery said. “When they fill up at the gas station, in some cases, people are having to spend triple digits to fill their tank. That’s when it hits you.”

In Los Angeles and Long Beach, the average price per gallon of regular gas reached $5.34 Wednesday, according to the American Automobile Association. That is 16 cents more than last week and 41 cents more than last year on the same date.

Prices were slightly less in Orange County, which reported an average of $5.31 Wednesday—increasing 16 cents from the week prior and 40 cents more than the same date last year.

In San Francisco, the average price reached $5.65 per gallon, an increase of 34 cents from last week and 63 cents more than last year.

The highest prices were found in Mono County in central eastern California on the Nevada border, where the average price reached $6.04 April 10 for a gallon for regular gas.

The average cost of a gallon of gas in the Golden State is nearly $2 more than the national average of $3.60 per gallon, AAA also reported Wednesday.

Prices could begin to drop again by Memorial Day weekend, but California consumers should expect more increases before then, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy, an app used for finding the cheapest gas.

“California is certainly leading with the most expensive gas in the country, but it also has the biggest increases,” he told The Epoch Times.

The state has a unique set of rules and regulations that other states lack, including high state gas taxes and cap-and-trade charges, he added.

In addition, the number of in-state refineries able to produce the specific blend required by law is declining, Mr. De Haan said.

“A lot of these policies that drive prices up really impact California prices much more so than the rest of the country,” he added.

Also, while other states can pipe fuel supplies in from other states during a shortage, California remains a gasoline island without pipelines or other infrastructure to bring in supplies.

“Over the next six weeks, I do think prices will go up, but I’m hopeful by June it will start settling down,” Mr. De Haan said. “Hopefully, it will fall back below the $5 a gallon mark by the end of summer.”

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