Gasoline prices lower in time for holiday weekend

May 27, 2011 4:55am
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•  Still more than a dollar a gallon higher than a year ago

•  ‘The chief regulator on oil speculation, in my view, is breaking the law’

Gasoline prices across California have dropped by about a dime over the past week, providing welcome relief to travelers fueling up before the Memorial Day holiday, according to price surveys Friday.

“The Auto Club is expecting that 84 percent of Southern California travelers, or 2.2 million people, will drive to their holiday destinations this weekend, so the gas price drops are coming at a good time,” says Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Despite the trickle-down in pump prices, averages are still running about $1 per gallon higher than a year ago.

Several U.S. Senators on Thursday called for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to finally get around the obeying the law and impose strong speculation limits on oil and gas trading – something the Dodd-Frank Act supposedly required to be done by Jan. 17.

"I want to know why they haven't done it," says Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

"In other words, the chief regulator on oil speculation, in my view, is breaking the law,” Mr. Sanders says.

He says there is mounting evidence that the rapid increase in gasoline prices has had nothing to do with the fundamentals of supply and demand, but everything to do with Wall Street firms that are artificially driving up the price of oil in the energy futures markets.

Following are the Central Valley average prices for Friday, May 27, driving from south to north, as reported by the American Automobile Association with last week’s (May 20) averages in parentheses and [May 13] prices in brackets:

• Bakersfield, $4.098 ($4.192) [$4.273]

• Visalia-Porterville, $4.075 ($4.156) [$4.251]

• Fresno, $4.017 ($4.111) [$4.220]

• Merced, $4.043 ($4.145) [$4.218]

• Modesto, $3.973 ($4.065) [$4.177]

• Stockton-Lodi, $4.002 ($4.109) [$4.203]

• Sacramento, $4.013 ($4.121) [$4.207]

• Yolo, $4.015 ($4.103) [$4.190]

• Yuba City, $3.953 ($4.029) [$4.106]

• Chico, $3.981 ($4.076) [$4.176]

The market average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area on May 27 is $4.083, which is nine cents less than a week ago, the AAA says. In San Diego, it is $4.041, which is 9.4 cents less than a week ago, according to the AAA’s figures.

On this Memorial Day weekend, San Francisco has California’s highest market average price for gasoline (again) -- $4.175. But that is 7.5 cents less than last week’s average price, according to the AAA’s figures.

Yuba City continues to have California’s lowest market average price – $3.953 on May 27, according to the AAA’s figures. That is 7.6 cents under last week’s average.

What might be the lowest reported price in California on May 27 is the $3.65 per gallon being charged at a gas station in Downey, according to the website

Continuing to post what might be the state’s highest price for a gallon of petrol is a Mobil station in West Covina. On May 27 it is $4.91, says GasBuddy, the same price it demanded a week ago.

The nation’s lowest gas prices have seen a shift from the interior West – Utah and Wyoming -- to the Southeast over the past several weeks. May 27 is no exception, with what might be the nation’s lowest price being charged at a gas station in Greenville, S.C. -- $2.99 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.


GasBuddy bases its figures on reports from volunteer “price spotters” reporting specific locations in the U.S. and Canada. They are not independently confirmed.

The AAA’s prices are market averages for self-serve regular grade (87 octane) gasoline. They are calculated daily from credit card purchases and compiled by the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.

Not every station is surveyed and not every market is included in either report. Both price surveys note that there can be wide variations within any market.

Gasoline prices throughout California are higher than the national average and usually among the highest in the nation. That is due in part to taxes and a state law mandating a special blend of fuel to reduce polluting emissions.

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