AAA: Gasoline Price Eruption Over For Now

Mar 12, 2013 3:00 PM

Despite month to month jumps in pump prices across Northern California, many regions of the Golden State are starting to see gas prices slowly drop, according to the latest AAA Northern California monthly gas survey.

California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.17, up 11 cents since last month’s AAA report on February 12, 2013. For perspective, gas prices today are 19 cents more expensive than California’s average price on this date last year. Among all 50 states, California has the second highest state average price for regular, unleaded gasoline. Hawaii is the highest at $4.40.

Here in the north state, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline is now hovering around the $4 mark.

“The recent, rising gas price bubble has burst, as prices are starting to trickle down following a series of jumps at the pump that lasted for weeks,” said Robert Brown, AAA Northern California Public Affairs Director. “This drop in prices is helped by a now completed switchover to summer-blend gasoline and the completion of refinery maintenance, which helped to push up prices.”

Northern California gas prices are now averaging $4.11, a change of 16 cents in price from last month’s report. In the San Francisco Bay Area, motorists can expect to pay an average price of $4.23, which is up 20 cents from last month.

Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.70. This price is four cents more expensive than one week ago, 12 cents more than one month ago and 10 cents more than the average price one year ago.

The recent spike in pump prices was a product of refinery maintenance and concerns, rather than more expensive crude oil. These refinery issues pressured both wholesale and futures prices higher for gasoline, while crude oil prices only increased slightly during the same period. The recent decline in the national average is partially due to cheaper crude oil but is more closely linked to sharply lower wholesale gasoline prices.

At the close of formal trading on the NYMEX yesterday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices settled up 11 cents at $92.06 per barrel. For comparison, on the nearest trading day in 2011 and 2012, WTI settled at $101.16 and $106.34, respectively. These more expensive prices in recent years were driven by violence and geopolitical tensions overseas (Libya in 2011 and Iran in 2012). Without similar concerns to begin 2013, crude oil prices have been less expensive and less volatile.

The least expensive average price in Northern California can be found in Modesto, Marysville, and Tracy where regular unleaded gasoline is $3.98 per gallon. Of all the metro areas in Northern California, where gas prices are tracked by AAA, Eureka has the highest average price at $4.36. The highest average price of gas, in the nation’s metro areas that AAA tracks, is in Wailuki, Hawaii. The price there is $4.57 per gallon. The lowest is in Casper, Wyoming, where the price is $3.16 per gallon.


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