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Gas prices close in on $5 point

• Regular unleaded sits at $4.65 a gallon

Posted: June 21, 2008 10:53 p.m.
Updated: August 23, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

Since breaking the $4 point just a month ago, the price of gas in the Santa Clarita Valley has continued its rapid rise and one local analyst believes that it will soon hit $5 a gallon.

"It's just a matter of time," said Randy Cressall, owner of Valencia Auto Spa. "Once it's five dollars, we're going to see more escalation again."

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in the local valley stands at $4.65, according to Cressall's gas survey released Thursday. The number is a six cent increase from last week's average.

Nationwide, gas prices increased by 0.2 cent to an average of $4.075 a gallon on Friday, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. On Monday, the national average hit $4.08, creating a new record.

While the prices have been on the increase, Cressall said he's seen the wholesale cost "calm down a little bit."

"There were major jumps at the beginning of the month," he said. "I have not seen any price increases for the last week."

The most expensive gas is being sold at the Mobil station, located at Bouquet Canyon Road and Urbandale Avenue, where a gallon for regular unleaded is $4.77.

The cheapest spot for gas is at the Valencia Auto Spa where a gallon is at $4.54. The Alliance station on San Fernando Road and Second Street and Arco station on Sierra Highway and Friendly Valley also have low cost prices. Both stations are selling a gallon of regular for $4.55.

Many gas stations around the Santa Clarita Valley have begun charging a "cash price" for customers who pay for their gas in cash rather than using a credit card. Cressall assumes the cash price, which is a usually a few cents cheaper, is being issued as a way for gas station owners to avoid the credit card fees.

While the price for a gallon of regular stays in the mid-dollar range, the cost for a gallon of premium, the highest grade of gasoline, is getting closer to the $5 mark.

At the same Mobil station, a gallon of premium is at $4.97. The average for premium grade is $4.86, according to the gas survey.

The Associated Press reported that demand for high-octane fuel is at its lowest in nearly a quarter of a century and is now primarily being purchased by a small group of luxury car owners.

Statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that in 1997, high-octane garnered 16 percent of the nationwide fuel market share. Last month, premium had only eight percent of the market. Last year, premium gasoline consumption fell to about 35.6 million gallons of gas per day, the lowest in 24 years, according to the administration.

Much like the rest of the Santa Clarita Valley, Cressall hopes that the price of gas will come down.

"There is no way our society can continue to withstand this," he said. "It's just hitting us all."

From the perspective of a gas station and car wash owner, Cressall said he's seen a change in the number of customers buying car washes and performing routine maintenance check ups on their vehicles.

He believes the high cost of gas is to blame because the record prices are putting a strain on people's budgets.

He cited a study from the International Carwash Association, which reported that 42 percent of consumers washed their cars at home in 2007. In March 2008, the number hit 69 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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