Calif. Gas Prices Surge, Top $4 a Gallon in L.A.

gas-pump-2LOS ANGELES — Average California gasoline prices jumped 23 cents in the last week, passing $4 a gallon in Los Angeles, fuel surveys show.

This surge follows a year in which the nation’s motorists spent a greater percentage of their annual income on gasoline than at any time in the last three decades, the Energy Department said.

Gasoline expenditures were higher despite a sharp improvement in automobile fuel economy, according to a separate report.

The average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline in California jumped to $3.914 on Monday, up 23.4 cents from a week earlier, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

The Energy Department reported a similar increase for California of 22.8 cents a gallon, to $3.904, in its separate price survey.

Refinery maintenance was one reason for the surge, said Denton Cinquegrana, executive editor of the Oil Price Information Service.

“California has a lot more planned refinery maintenance than it usually has at this time of year,” Cinquegrana said. “And most of that is concentrated in Southern California.”

Los Angeles County, for example, averaged $4.017 a gallon Monday, up 24.8 cents over the last week, the AAA report said.

Auto Club spokesman Jeff Spring said gasoline traders play a role.

“Big investment money is flowing earlier and earlier into gasoline trading, ahead of the usual spring spike,” he said.

“Southern California is a particularly vulnerable market for shortages because it has no inexpensive alternatives if local refinery production is down, and traders are aware of this.”

But California is not alone. In the Midwest, prices jumped 22.8 cents over the last week, according to the Energy Department.

That helped drive the U.S. average for a gallon of regular to its highest average ever for this week, up 18.1 cents to $3.538 a gallon.

In 2012, Americans paid a record average of $3.618 for a gallon of regular gasoline, up from $3.521 in 2011, according to the Energy Department.

The 2011 average was also a record and a whopping 73.9 cents a gallon more than in 2010.

The Energy Department says U.S. households spent an average of $2,912 on gasoline in 2012, or almost 4% of their pretax income, the highest percentage in 30 years.

“The effect of the higher prices in 2011 and 2012 outweighed the effect of reduced consumption,” the Energy Department said.

In fact, researchers at the University of Michigan said Monday that the average fuel economy for new vehicles sold in the U.S. reached a record 24.5 mpg in January — up 0.4 mpg from a revised figure for December.

Meanwhile, the Union of Concerned Scientists reported that most Americans “are likely to spend almost as much on gasoline over the life of their vehicle as its original cost.”

“You’re basically paying for a second car every 15 years. The only thing really benefiting from your oil use is oil companies’ bottom line,” said Joshua Goldman, the report’s author and a policy analyst for the advocacy group.

High and volatile fuel prices have fractured brand loyalty, with customers willing to switch if the price is right, according to a survey by NPD Group.

The NPD Group survey of 3,740 U.S. consumers found that nearly 60% would switch brands if they saw a price difference of 10 cents or less a gallon.

Only 9% said they wouldn’t buy another brand no matter the price.

“Clearly fuel discounts are a game-changer in today’s market,” says David Portalatin, motor fuels industry analyst for the NPD Group.

If gasoline brands expect to hang onto their customers, he added, “it is imperative that they create value for the consumer in some aspect of the purchase occasion — whether price, quality, rewards, or some other attribute.”

-Los Angeles Times

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28 comments

  • nahshal

    til I saw the check which said $7346, I have faith …that…my best friend was like actually bringing in money parttime on-line.. there sisters roommate haz done this 4 less than 13 months and a short time ago repayed the mortgage on their apartment and got a top of the range Citroën 2CV. we looked here, http://qr.net/j70X

    • Spam-Tard

      I can't believe someone is dumb enough to pay you to post this dribble, the spelling sucks, your whole approach to this sucks too.

  • American

    More of that Obummer recovery. Did you see welfare spending under Obama jump from $568 billion in 2008 to 1.03 trillion in 2011. That doesn't include entitlement programs like social security, medicare, veteran's programs, etc… That's straight welfare. Check it out. The non-partisan Congressional Research Service put the report together. Obummer recovery values.

    • doug mlyn

      you should look up what en entitlement program really is before you start spewing misinformation.

      There are some common misconceptions related to the definition of an entitlement program. Many people believe that any program where the government gives people money is an entitlement program, but this is not the case. For example, people actually give money to the Social Security program during their years of work, so they are actually paying to gain access to that program, and it doesn’t necessarily qualify as an entitlement. Medicare is similar, although there are actually parts of both programs that could technically be called entitlement program elements.

  • Greg

    Here we go again….the oil companies and their greed! They create there own market and they do not care about the consumer…..we should not give oli companies a break with anything!

  • Original OG

    Your pushing the people to the limits, high rent, high food, high gas, theres just so much before alll hell breaks loose, THEN WHAT.

  • Rogue1

    Usually Dianne F threatens to look into these price spikes then they go down for a while. But lately she's too busy trying to disarm America to care about our personal economies.

  • Jeff W

    Well, I looked forward to my tax refund, but here's the FUP oil companies spiking their prices correlating too, to one side of it. Then there's the other side where I didn't vote for Brown nor Obama because I would have at least liked to have had a little bit more back from it from the FUP sandwich. Greed goes as the green flows with both the private and government sectors. Thank you Bernanke (Fed Chairman) and Geitner (US Treasurer) without jumping off the fiscal cliff!! Now, will you both please just step down??

  • Jeff W

    …Oil (gasoline pump) mixed with water (diluted $$ at the hands of our Fed and Treasury department) is the toxic combination with a president busting up our economic system…all at the hands of the people having voted to undergo the "social experiment."

  • Love Big Oil

    Demand your Obamanation government to fix skyrocketing energy problems and stop crying about evil oil companies you ignorant fools.


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