California Leads Country in Gas Price Increases

Gas prices have increased for 31 days in a row, raising the national average for regular unleaded to $2.34 per gallon, as refinery maintenance and an explosion at a Southern California refinery reduced gasoline production in some areas.

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The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said Thursday that the national average for regular increased 7 cents the past week and has been rising at better than a penny per day the past four weeks, increasing 31 cents during that period. It is the longest streak of daily increases since last spring, AAA said.

Refineries typically undergo routine maintenance this time of year, temporarily limiting production and helping to drive up pump prices. In addition, a recent explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif., further reduced the supply and drove pump prices 27 cents higher in California the past week alone.

AAA said California’s statewide average has increased 65 cents the past month to $3.10, the highest in the nation. In comparison, Alaska’s average price for regular fell 8 cents during the past four weeks to $2.64, and Hawaii’s fell 20 cents to $3.04.

Los Angeles area motorists took the brunt of the refinery explosion. Pump prices increased 34 cents the past week to a metro-area average of $3.24, a 77-cent jump from a month ago. The northern half of California was less affected. Pump prices averaged $3.02 in San Jose and $2.81 in the inland town of Chico to the northeast.

Other states have experienced significant price hikes during the last four weeks, though none on the same scale as California. Prices have climbed 38 cents in Illinois, 40 cents in Kansas and Missouri, and 42 cents in Arizona, Nevada and Ohio.

Since prices started to climb on Jan. 27, the number of states where regular gas averaged less than $2 has dwindled from 25 to just two, Utah ($1.99) and Idaho ($1.98).
Diesel fuel prices also are rising, increasing 4 cents the past week to $2.89.

Pump prices are still well below where they were at this time in recent years. Regular gas is $1.09 cheaper than it was a year ago, for example, and $1.45 cheaper than two years ago.