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Down from February high, gas prices stand a little above $4 a gallon

Posted: April 2, 2013 6:13 p.m.
Updated: April 2, 2013 6:13 p.m.

A man fills up at the Arco gas station in Newhall on Tuesday. Signal photo by Dan Watson

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Gas prices in and around Los Angeles have fallen by about 23 cents a gallon in the last month, offering what one analyst called a “sigh of relief” after prices hit a high so far this year of $4.30 a gallon in late February.

The average price for a gallon of unleaded self-serve gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area stood at about $4.09, according to Tuesday’s AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

That’s about 25 cents lower than at the same time a year ago, according to the report.

Los Angeles County reflects a nationwide trend of falling gas prices in March. According to, a gas price tracking and analysis website, this is the first year since 2003 that saw gas prices lower at the end of March than at the beginning.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve experienced such a downturn in gas prices,” said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with “It’s really a sigh of relief from a price standpoint.”

Locally, prices in Santa Clarita ranged between $3.95 and $4.29 a gallon, according to

DeHaan said Tuesday that the recent price decreases may reflect an adjustment after prices peaked earlier than normal in late February.

Gas prices rose roughly 80 cents from the beginning of January to the end of February, topping out at about $4.30 a gallon in the area around Los Angeles, according to

DeHaan said prices typically go up as refineries switch from winter-grade gasoline to summer-grade gasoline. As refineries prepare to sell off their remaining stock of winter-grade gasoline, supply tightens and prices tend to increase.

This was one of the contributing factors to last fall’s record high prices, which reached an average of $4.70 a gallon in and around Los Angeles.

Summer-grade gasoline contains more additives to make it burn cleaner, but those chemicals also make it more expensive to produce, which is why gas prices typically fall during the winter months.

After the switch between the two blends, which typically takes place around March, prices tend to settle for the next several months, DeHaan said.

He projected gas prices will remain around $4 a gallon throughout the summer.

“I don’t believe that California will set any all-time new record highs for gas prices this year,” the analyst said.

Even without record-high prices, California still has the second highest average gasoline price in the United States, according to AAA.

Hawaii and California were the only two states with average current prices above $4 a gallon.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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