No relief in sight at California gas pumps
Gasoline prices normally increase in advance of the April-to-September heavy driving season, but this time the price climb came shockingly early – in the dead of winter. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – California drivers might not feel any relief at the pump this summer despite the prediction of a decline in prices around the country, when compared to last year’s prices. Experts say local prices may not dip at all if repairs at refineries making California’s special blend of gasoline continue. “It depends on those repairs and how fast they can get the full amount flowing again,” said Dan Blake, director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at California State University, Northridge. The average price of gas in L.A./Long Beach was $3.26 Tuesday, according to the Auto Club of Southern California. A limited number of refineries make gasoline according to the state’s clean air laws, and when refineries need maintenance, the supply of gas falls off, raising prices. However, the Energy Department said Tuesday that the recent sharp rise in gasoline costs – 64 cents a gallon since January – is likely to slow in the coming weeks, with prices averaging $2.81 a gallon over the vacation driving season, about 3 cents lower than last spring and summer. “We think the forecast is about on track,” said Geoff Sundstrom, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association. He said that based on current market trends, he doesn’t see another summer of $3 gasoline nationwide. Prices have soared in each of the last two summers: During Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that disrupted Gulf Coast supplies and last July when the Israeli invasion of Lebanon caused crude prices to spike to $76 dollar a barrel with $3-plus gasoline quick to follow. The forecast assumes no new international crisis this summer.