Amid a surge in gas prices on the West Coast due to refinery issues, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline reached an all-time high in Los Angeles County on Wednesday, ticking up to $6.494 a gallon. The price increased five-tenths of a cent overnight.
Gas prices for regular fuel have increased by more than 38 cents in Los Angeles since a week ago, according to data from the American Automobile Assn. Last year, the average price was about $5.28 a gallon.
California is facing surging oil prices in the wake of shutdowns at several oil refineries. Prices slowly began to creep up in September after months of declines. And unlike the nationwide rise in gas prices over the summer, this most recent spike is mostly confined to California and the West Coast.
The state has experienced the steepest hike in gas prices in the U.S., climbing to an average of $6.42 per gallon for regular fuel on Wednesday and causing Gov. Gavin Newsom to shift to the state’s cheaper, winter-blend gasoline. Other Western states, such as Oregon and Washington, have also seen increases.
“With gas prices continuing to surge on the West Coast and Great Lakes, the national average saw its second straight weekly rise,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a blog post. “But at the same time, areas of the Northeast and Gulf Coast have continued to see declines as the nation experiences sharp differences in trends between regions.”
De Haan said that West Coast states have seen gas prices rise between 35 to 55 cents per gallon in the last week but that Californians should expect some relief at the pump soon, even despite news that OPEC+, a coalition of oil-producing countries, would cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day.
De Haan called it “very nuanced right now because of refinery kinks” but predicted gas prices would fall in the West Coast, Great Lakes and other areas with gas price surges, while increasing in the East Coast, Southeast, South, Gulf and Northeast because of the OPEC+ decision.
“The worst appears to be over for California. … Price differentials are plunging, with gasoline values down some 45c/gal,” he tweeted Wednesday morning. “This will take a few days for stations to start getting the cheaper fuel, but lower gas prices are coming!”
One expert said that he didn’t think the OPEC decision would be a big factor in fuel prices, particularly in California.
“When President Biden released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, it hurt OPEC in terms of revenues. Most of that oil went to refiners,” said Phil Verleger, a Denver-based oil expert who formerly served as a senior staff economist on the Council of Economic Advisors. “Now, OPEC wants some of that money back. But Biden has already said he will release more from the Reserve to counteract this.”
Verleger added that California’s record fuel price spike “is because of refining issues, not because of crude prices.”
In the meantime, here’s where to find the cheapest fuel in L.A. and Orange counties for a gallon of regular gasoline, according to GasBuddy:
- Ramco Gasoline — $4.93
1104 E. Palmdale Blvd., Palmdale
- Conserv Fuel — $5.19
42011 Sierra Highway, Lancaster
- Sam’s Club — $5.29
17099 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley
- Doheny Village Car Wash — $5.29
34241 Doheny Park Road, Capistrano Beach
- Chevron — $5.39
16221 Lake Forest Drive, Irvine
- Arco — $5.39
34342 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point
- 76 & 7-Eleven — $5.39
27271 Trabuco Road, Mission Viejo
- Valero — $5.39
2490 N. Tustin St., Orange
- VP Racing Fuels — $5.99
3605 E. 7th St., Long Beach
- Chevron — $6.09
6702 Westminster Blvd., Westminster