Unleaded Self-Serve Gasoline Hits $2.99/Gallon in California
SACRAMENTO, CA – With statewide pump averages up 23 cents so far this month, California gas prices are edging toward $3 per gallon, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Los Angeles motorists are seeing unleaded self-serve gas selling for $2.99 per gallon. San Francisco customers paid an average of $2.93, according to data compiled last week by the AAA of Northern California auto club. The cost of a fill-up will probably go higher, AAA spokesman Sean Comey said.
Pump price can be traced in part to a Feb. 16 fire at a Valero refinery in Texas that caused a ripple effect in California, Arizona, and Nevada, Comey said. Gas costs to station owners have jumped by about 50 cents per gallon, and retailers haven’t yet passed the full amount on to consumers.
At the same time, production is undergoing a seasonal dip as refineries switch from making winter fuel to less-polluting summer formulas. The refiners often use the changeover to shut down units for routine maintenance, and oil companies draw on inventories to meet their fuel supply contracts during these periods. But fires such as the one at Valero and maintenance snags can force them to buy in the spot market, according to Suzanne Garfield of the California Energy Commission.
That extra demand can ratchet up wholesale and retail prices. Meanwhile, crude oil traded above $60 last week, continuing an upward trend linked to concerns over U.S. fuel supplies as well as conflict between Western nations and Iran over its development of nuclear technology.