Gas prices in Southern California have jumped 67 cents within the past week, in an unprecedented spike that on Tuesday brought the highest prices in Los Angeles County to nearly $6 per gallon.
"Motorists in Southern California are outraged and angry as GasBuddy data shows gasoline prices have never risen as quickly or as much as the latest spike at the pump," GasBuddy.com, which monitors gas prices, stated.
AAA reported the average price for a gallon of gas in L.A. and Long Beach counties was $4.20 as of Tuesday morning, but several gas stations topped $5 and one in Brentwood advertised $5.89 for a gallon of regular gas and $5.97 for premium.
The AAA price showed a 15-cent increase from yesterday, 28-cent increase from Sunday and, according to GasBuddy, a 67-cent increase from last week.
Increases were seen across the West Coast after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week that gasoline imports to the area declined to zero for the first time since March, prompting gasoline inventories to fall some 42 million gallons, a GasBuddy blog post stated.
“The market clearly became obsessed with the possibility that supply was going to be hard to find, and in the process, started raising their offer prices for what gasoline was available,” the post stated.
Prices were expected to rise another 10 to 25 cents before dropping, according to GasBuddy.
“We believe the worst of it is over and that the pace of price acceleration will diminish and flatten out within the next week to two weeks,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.
The current increase is larger than California's previous record spike of 52.7 cents in one week in October 2012, according to GasBuddy.
During that spike, which was caused by a fire at a Chevron refinery in Richmond, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a fee waiver.
GasBuddy CEO Jason Toews has asked Brown to issue a waiver to help strengthen supply and reduce the price escalation for the current increase.
Toews also asked Californians to sign an online petition asking Brown to waive state air quality measures for fuel formulations that are associated with increased fuel costs. More than 1,300 people had signed the petition as of Tuesday morning.
Northern California, Nevada and Arizona also experienced price increases, but they were mild compared to Southern California, according to GasBuddy.
Outside the West Coast, prices were stable or declining with the national average standing at $2.78 per gallon.
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