Southern California continued to set new gas price records Thursday as Russian forces began their attack on neighboring Ukraine.
The average price of regular gasoline in California climbed to $4.73 — a new record for the state and five cents higher than last week’s prices, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
That’s also higher than the national average price, which stood at $3.54 Thursday.
“The escalation of tensions into all-out war has pushed up Brent Crude prices above $100 a barrel and if that trend continues, we could see gas prices start going up more quickly,” Auto Club spokesman Doug Shupe said in a statement Thursday morning.
In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, the average price of self-serve regular gasoline was $4.82 per gallon, up 15 cents from last month. The figure is also a new record.
Other areas also set new records Thursday, including San Diego with an average per-gallon price at $4.78, the Central Coast at $4.74 and Riverside at $4.73.
Shupe said gasoline supplies on the West Coast are at their lowest levels of 2022, and this could also add to upward price pressure.
Even before Russia — one of the world’s top gas exporters — attacked Ukraine, the possibility of an invasion had sent crude prices surging.
And well before that, suppliers’ struggle to keep up with rising demand had also been driving prices up.
While oil prices briefly jumped above $100 per barrel — to their highest levels since 2014 — they came back down after President Joe Biden said the sanctions were tailored not to disrupt the oil and gas markets, the Associated Press reported.
“Our sanctions package is specifically designed to allow energy payments to continue,” Biden said as he addressed the nation Thursday.
The president said U.S. oil and gas companies should not exploit the crisis to hike their prices.
Though California doesn’t actually import any oil from Russia, the loss of a major exporter would shrink global supplies, and that could affect prices in California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Automobile Club advised Californians to save money on gas by making sure their tires are properly maintained, avoiding “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations, slowing down and driving at the speed limit, using cruise control on highways, minimizing the use of air conditioning, removing unnecessary bulky items from their cars and avoiding extended idling to warm up the engine.