See-sawing Southern California gasoline prices dropped for 98 days in a row following a sharp increase earlier this year and now are headed back up, according to the latest data cited by analysts on Friday.
After declining for 98 consecutive days, the national average reversed course yesterday as fluctuating oil prices and tight supply due to planned and unplanned maintenance work at refineries on the West Coast and Midwest contribute to rising pump prices, AAA analysts said.
“All streaks have to end at some point, and the national average for a gallon of gas has fallen $1.34 since its peak in mid-June,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson.
“But there are big factors tugging on global oil prices—war, COVID, economic recession, and hurricane season,” Gross continued. “All this uncertainty could push oil prices higher, likely resulting in slightly higher pump prices.”
The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County rose 5 cents Thursday to $5.529, a day after rising 6.4 cents.
It is 14.5 cents more than one week ago, 23.7 cents higher than one month ago and $1.181 greater than one year ago, according to figures from the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
The average price is 84.4 cents less than the record $6.373 set June 15.
The Orange County average price rose 4.6 cents to $5.566. It is 17.9 cents more than one week ago, 32.5 cents higher than one month ago and $1.209 greater than one year ago.
The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County rose for the 20th consecutive day Thursday, increasing 4.2 cents to $5.587.
The average price has increased 34.1 cents over the past 20 days, including 8.5 cents Tuesday, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. It is 16.4 cents more than one week ago, 24.9 cents higher than one month ago, and 87.5 cents less than the record high of $6.462 set June 14.
The national average price rose three-tenths of a cent Thursday to $3.684. It has dropped $1.332 since rising to a record $5.016 on June 14.
The national average price was 1.4 cents less than one week ago and 21.7 cents lower than one month ago, but 49.4 cents more than one year ago, according to AAA.
The rapid price decline might not seem like much considering the previous sharp rise in prices that alarmed everybody from consumers to analysts. Speaking outside the pumps at one of the cheapest gas price station in San Diego County, Son’s Auto Service at 445 W. 5th Ave., Nancy Tosic said, “Gas price are the tip of the inflation iceberg. We don’t get a grip on that, we have to pay more for everything else, too.”
Economists echoes that sentiment. Paul Ashworth, chief US economist for Capital Economics said sliding food and gasoline prices will cause headline Consumer Price Index prints to fall over the rest of 2022. “”The continued drop in gasoline prices and easing food inflation will weigh on headline CPI over the next month or two,” he said in a research note posted earlier this week.
That station was charging $4.97 per gallon of regular unleaded on Tuesday. The price as reported on Friday had hit $5.09 a gallon. Gas Buddies on Friday said Son’s was the 10th lowest gas price in San Diego County. The lowest was at Horizon Fuel Center at Valley Center, about 20 miles north of Escondido where the Friday price was $4.79 per gallon.
“With some issues arising in Plains and Great Lakes states as the transition to winter gasoline begins, I think we have the best potential to see the weekly trend of falling prices snapped,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “West Coast states also continue to see increases as unexpected refinery issues continue to percolate, preventing a downward move.”
Doug Shupe, Corporate Communications and Programs Manager with AAA, said the ongoing war in Ukraine, Hurricane season and economic concerns were affecting the increase in price. He agreed that some relief should be on the way, as refineries switch from the summer to winter blend of gasoline distributed in California beginning in November.
“That winter blend fuel is cheaper to produce than the summer blend fuel, typically 15 to 20 cents per gallon less,” Shupe said. “When our refineries are having an issue, like some type of unplanned maintenance that has to happen, then we have to wait for that product to come from overseas. It causes these pump prices to increase. Globally, crude oil prices are also facing a lot of pressure right now.”
AAA advised drivers hoping to make the most out of their gasoline to stay on top of regularly scheduled car maintenance, make sure tires are properly inflated and maintain the speed limit while driving, especially on freeways.