Average Gas Prices in Los Angeles More Than $3 for First Time in 2015

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Average gas prices in Los Angeles rose above $3 for the first time in 2015 during the last week of February and less than a week after an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance.

The explosion, along with the introduction of more expensive seasonal gas and annual maintenance added to the jump in prices, which rose 17.7 cents per gallon in L.A. in the past week, experts said.

The national average rose 4.7 cents per gallon in the same week, GasBuddy.com stated in a news release.

“Not only is the national average up some 27 cents per gallon versus last month, but some areas - like California - are seeing extra hits at the pump as a refinery explosion and seasonal gasoline requirements leading to a home run, and not for the home team," said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com.

The average regular gas price in Los Angeles Sunday was $3.03 per gallon, compared with a $2.95 average in the entire state, and $2.29 nationally.

Average prices in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas one week ago were $2.86 and $2.49 one month ago, AAA stated on its website.

Last Wednesday’s explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance was expected to cause prices to spike because Exxon Mobil and Tesoro Corporation refineries accounted for 17.5 percent of total oil processing capacity by California’s active refineries, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“The shutdown at the Torrance refinery coupled with the earlier shutdown of the Tesoro Golden Eagle refinery has squeezed the supply of gasoline,” Linda Rapattoni, spokeswoman for the California Energy Commission, told the Times.

The average price of regular gas increased by 1.8 cents per gallon the day of the explosion, which injured four workers and shut down a portion of the plant.

Recent price surges came a month after the longest streak of decreasing national gas prices - 123 straight days - ended, CNN reported.

The steady four-month decline saw national averages as low as $1.52 per gallon.

As of Jan. 5, 40 percent of U.S. gas stations offered gas below $2 a gallon, CNN reported.

But experts say even without last week’s explosion, prices would likely have increased because pricier seasonal gas is typically introduced in February, AAA stated on its website.

In addition, maintenance is typically conducted this time of year.

“Refineries usually schedule maintenance during the first several months of the year when demand is relatively low, which can lead to decreased production and supplies,” the AAA website stated.

While gas prices nationally increased by 4.7 cents per gallon in the past week, California rose by 15 cents, Nevada increased by 11 cents, and Oregon and Washington increased by 10 cents, GasBuddy.com reported.

“The seasonal lift in gasoline prices remains well underway across the country, with the West Coast seeing the most excruciating rate of price increases," DeHaan stated Monday.

And the rising costs may continue, with a 15 to 25 cents per gallon increase in California predicted over the next two weeks, GasBuddy.com stated.

Oregon, Washington and Arizona could expect similar spikes.

But despite California’s soaring gas prices, costs as of Sunday were 81.8 cents per gallon lower than they were one year ago in L.A., GasBuddy.com stated.