Gasoline prices push up In California, nationwide
September 1, 2017
• Hurricane Harvey gets the blame
• “We are seeing a slight uptick … because the disaster has caused concern along the entire supply chain”
Supply concerns after Hurricane Harvey’s devastation have pushed up prices nationally and even in California, according to price surveys Friday.
“California’s gasoline and oil supplies do not come from the Gulf Coast, but we are seeing a slight uptick before the long holiday weekend because the disaster has caused concern along the entire supply chain,” says Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.
At $2.519, Friday’s national gas price average is the highest national average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline so far this year. The last time the national gas price average was more than $2.50 was two years ago in August of 2015.
The near-term combinations of numerous refinery and pipeline shut downs, tightened access to supply levels in the Gulf and anticipated high gasoline demand surrounding Labor Day weekend, means motorists may not have seen the full impact of Harvey at the pump.
“Consumers will see a short-term spike in the coming weeks with gas prices likely topping $2.50 per gallon, but quickly dropping by mid to late September,” says Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokeswoman. “AAA does not expect refineries to be offline for months, as early reports indicate minimal to no significant damage to Corpus Christi and Houston refineries.”
The coming days, with Corpus Christi refineries working to come back online and Houston/Galveston beginning to dry out, will offer more insight into how long total recovery and restoration efforts may take, AAA says.
As of midafternoon Thursday, 10 refineries in the Gulf Coast region were shut down, according to public reports. These refineries have a combined refining capacity of 3,075,229 barrels per day, equal to 31.7 percent of total Gulf Coast refining capacity and 16.6 percent of total U.S. refining capacity, the U.S. Department of Energy said.
In addition to refinery shut downs, several major pipelines are running at reduced rates, have shut down or plan to shut down due to lack of supply. With its supplying refineries closed in the area, pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline cited reduced output as the reason for suspending its transportation operations. The pipeline originates in Houston and supplies the East Coast.
“The shut downs do not indicate a shortage of gasoline supplies in the Gulf Coast region or across the country,” adds Ms. Casselano. “These are preventative measures. Overall stocks in the Gulf are above average levels and will be available to drivers once power is restored and area roads are cleared.”
California’s statewide average price on Friday, September 1, is $3.039, up 5.7 cents from one week ago, according to AAA. The national average is $2.519, up 16.7 cents since last Friday, according to the AAA.
Today’s Regional Prices
Following are the Central Valley average prices for Friday, September 1, driving from south to north, as reported by the American Automobile Association, with last week’s (August 25) averages in parentheses and [August 18] prices in brackets:
• Bakersfield, $2.970 ($2.960) [$2.932]
• Visalia-Porterville, $3.010 ($2.959) [$2.963]
• Fresno, $3.017 ($2.973) [$2.962]
• Merced, $2.972 ($2.926) [$2.931]
• Modesto, $2.852 ($2.796) [$2.802]
• Stockton-Lodi, $2.905 ($2.853) [$2.839]
• Sacramento, $2.934 ($2.884) [$2.883]
• Yolo, $2.894 ($2.853) [$2.841]
• Yuba City, $2.826 ($2.743) [$2.752]
• Chico, $2.849 ($2.787) [$2.778]
The market average price for self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area on September 1 is $3.080, up 6.6 cents since last Friday. In San Diego, the average price is $3.043 up 5.5 cents over the past seven days, the AAA says.
California’s highest average price on September 1 is in San Luis Obispo at $3.202, it is up 4.9 cents over the past week, the AAA says.
Again this week, Yuba City has the state’s lowest market average price. This week’s average of $2.826 is a jump of 8.3 cents in the past seven days, the AAA figures show.
California’s lowest reported price for a gallon of gas is found this week near where a 54-pound gold nugget was found – in 1859 – the Butte County Gold Rush town of Magalia. There a convenience store will take $2.439 per gallon, according to the gasoline price comparison website GasBuddy.com. That’s just three cents higher than last week’s lowest reported price.
What could be the lowest price in the country for a gallon of gas on September 1 is found in the town of Moore, Oklahoma, where a major brand gas station has posted a price of $1.869. That is three cents more than last week’s apparent lowest price, which had been spotted in surrounding Oklahoma City, says 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 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.