Gas prices plummet

As COVID-19 cases rise, gas prices drop in California.

Posted: Apr 20, 2020 10:41 PM

CHICO, Calif. -- As Coronavirus cases rise, local gas stations are taking a hit. They say people are scared to come to their station.

Owners of the Shell station on Esplanade say bankruptcy is a real possibility. It says they are selling 1,100 fewer gallons a day and about $700 less in goods a day. They aren’t the only ones.

“It was very slow, especially on the weekends,” said Stephanee Stone of 76. “That’s when our business went very down, but as of now it’s slowly getting better, but we could do better.”

According to Triple-A the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in California is $2.80. The price is expected to drop.

“It helps us a lot because we are usually $4.00 a gallon and we’re one of the first gas stations into town so they can see the price and say, ‘oh, that’s cheap,” said Stone.

Employees at the 76 on Esplanade say they are staying afloat selling the essential items.

“People are not wanting to go to bigger stores because [we’re] quick and easy, there’s not as many people and they get what they need and go,” said Stone.

Although some gas station are managing, refineries are not. The Marathon Petroleum Company is temporarily shutting down its massive Martinez Refinery in the Bay Area.

The company said it is seeing a 60% drop in demand.

"There's just way too much gasoline being produced, and the refineries have no place to put it,” said Severin Borenstein of UC Berkeley. “There's a limited amount of storage and so somebody was going to have to stop producing.”

Borenstein of UC Berkeley's Hass School of Business studies the oil industry and called the Marathon a major California producer.

He says other refineries in the state are likely to shut down or drastically reduce production, too.

Local gas stations say the same, but are hopeful things will turn around for them due to this drop in price.

“We’re ready for it to go back to normal, so we’re trying to get it going,” said Stone.

Most gas stations in Chico are below California’s average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas. The 76 on Esplanade starts at $2.69.

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A modest drop in temperatures, increasing clouds and the threat of thunderstorms are all ahead in your Friday forecast. The threat of thunderstorms over very dry fuels is resulting in high fire danger in portions of northern California Friday and Saturday. Some welcome changes are ahead in your extended forecast.
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