Oil companies raising gasoline prices as holiday weekend nears

May 19, 2017 4:15am
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•  A refinery “problem” is getting some of the blame

•  “Generally speaking, California refineries sell their fuel to local markets”

After a few weeks of tiny reductions in prices – perhaps a penny or three -- gasoline prices have reversed course and are moving upward ahead of the Memorial Day travel holiday, according to price surveys Friday.

“A Northern California refinery is reportedly having some issues restarting after a power outage earlier this month, and gas price averages in Northern California markets moved up by two or three cents from Wednesday to Thursday,” says Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

“So far, Southern California gas prices are not reacting similarly, although they are rising slowly. That’s because generally speaking, California refineries sell their fuel to local markets and not statewide,” Mr. Spring says.

Caught in the middle is the Central Valley, where the only refineries are in Bakersfield. In that metro, prices are just under the $3 mark -- $2.993, up 2.2 cents in a week. And that’s modest compared to some other Valley metros.

California’s average price on Friday, May 19, is $3.031. an increase of 5.9 cents since last Friday, the AAA says. The national average price is $2.346 up six-tenths of a cent over the past week, according to the data from the AAA.

Today’s Regional Prices

Following are the Central Valley average prices for Friday, May 19, driving from south to north, as reported by the American Automobile Association, with last week’s (May 12) averages in parentheses and [May 5] prices in brackets:

• Bakersfield, $2.993 ($2.971) [$2.970]

• Visalia-Porterville, $2.992 ($2.938) [$2.936]

• Fresno, $3.021 ($2.951) [$2.968]

• Merced, $3.041 ($2.955) [$2.971]

• Modesto, $2.877 ($2.785) [$2.792]

• Stockton-Lodi, $2.938 ($2.847) [$2.846]

• Sacramento, $2.965 ($2.869) [$2.882]

• Yolo, $2.908 ($2.836) [$2.857]

• Yuba City, $2.864 ($2.738) [$2.763]

• Chico, $2.912 ($2.795) [$2.795]

According to AAA’s data, the market average price for self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area on May 19 is $3.040, up 3.8 cents since last Friday. In San Diego, the average price is $3.008, an increase of 2.8 cents over the past seven days, the AAA says.

California’s highest average price is no longer in the quaint coastal college town of San Luis Obispo. It’s further of the coast in San Francisco where $3.202 is the average price for a gallon of gas on May 19, the Auto Club says. That’s a penny higher than in SLO.

Again this week, Yuba City has the state’s lowest market average price. Its May 19 average of $2.864 is a whopping 12.6 cents higher than last week’s average, the AAA says.

California’s lowest price spotted on May 19 is $2.459, found at an Arco station in Indio, so that may be a cash price, says the gasoline price comparison website GasBuddy.com. That’s three cents higher than the lowest reported in California a week ago.

The apparent lowest price in the country on May 19 for a gallon of gas is found at a convenience store in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, according to GasBuddy. Its price of $1.819 is three cents higher than the lowest found by GasBuddy’s volunteers last week, also in Oklahoma City.


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 Wex Inc., formerly known as 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.

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