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SCV gas prices rise in recent weeks

Posted: April 10, 2014 3:02 p.m.
Updated: April 10, 2014 3:02 p.m.

Levi Wenrich pumps gas at the Alliance gas station on Lyons Avenue in Newhall on Thursday. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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Gasoline prices in California have crept upward in recent weeks, but national analysts say a summertime spike may not be on the road ahead for drivers.
As of Thursday, the average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in California had risen by 8 cents over the last month and stood at roughly $4.07, according to the daily fuel gauge report from AAA.
The increase in the Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area was about 15 cents per gallon over the same time period to settle in at an average of $4.15.

In Santa Clarita, gas prices ranged from $3.99 to $4.29 per gallon Thursday, according to GasBuddy.com, an online price-tracking service.

“Motorists face rising prices every spring for varying reasons, but most notably because of refinery maintenance that slows production of gasoline and stations being required to sell cleaner-burning blends of gasoline that cost them more,” said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com, in a post on the service’s website.

California is one of only two states where the average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline exceeds $4 a gallon.

The other is Hawaii, where drivers were paying, on average, $4.31 a gallon on Thursday.

At the other end of the spectrum is Montana, where drivers paid an average of $3.31 a gallon.

But despite the recent increases in California’s gas prices, the Energy Department is not forecasting a drastic spike in gasoline prices during the summer travel season this year.

The national average price is actually forecast to fall — by just one cent — to $3.57 a gallon between April and September, the months when Americans do most of their driving.

That would be the lowest average summer price since 2010.

For the year, the department’s Energy Information Administration expects gasoline to average $3.45 a gallon, down from $3.51 last year and also the lowest since 2010.

World demand for oil is growing, but supplies are growing faster than demand, thanks to higher production in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. That will keep a lid on the price of crude and gasoline.

The price of Brent crude, a benchmark used to price oil used by many U.S. refineries and the most important factor in gasoline prices, is forecast to fall 4 percent this year.

U.S. drivers are expected to burn slightly more gasoline than they did last year, according to the EIA.

More people will drive more miles as the economy continues to improve, but they are driving more fuel-efficient cars. That will prevent gasoline demand from rising as fast as the number of miles driven.

EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski warned in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that unexpected factors such as refinery outages, pipeline problems or geopolitical events that disrupt crude flows could send prices quickly higher.

The sudden return of supplies could also send prices lower. The average price of gasoline last summer was five cents lower than what EIA had forecast last spring.

Sieminski said that the amount of oil kept out of the market because of political unrest and logistical factors around the world is far higher now than in the past.

Turmoil in Libya, Sudan and elsewhere is keeping about 2.5 million barrels per day of oil off the market, about 3 percent of world demand, up from 500,000 barrels historically, he said.

 

 

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