Gas prices are on the rise again in California, the state with the highest rates in the nation.
California currently surpasses the second-highest state, Hawaii, by 27 cents. The state’s average is now $4.28 per gallon.
Jeffrey Spring, spokesman for Southern California AAA, attributes the hike to many factors. But he said the main reason is the price of oil, which is the highest it has been in three years.
“The price of oil has been sort of hovering around $72 to $73 a barrel right now,” the spokesman told the News-Press Wednesday. “At this time last year, it was probably $40 a barrel.”
Oil producers are anticipating a large rush in traveling, with the Fourth of July weekend, summer months and the lifting of travel and pandemic restrictions. Mr. Spring said prices have been gradually going up for the past few months as restrictions were loosened.
Other reasons for the hike could be some refinery issues that have occurred in California, Mr. Spring said, citing a couple of flaring incidents that happened two to three weeks ago. Refinery incidents typically result in some sort of production problem, keeping the price headed upward.
Mr. Spring said that in a typical year, residents see an increase right around March and April. He added that in a typical year, prices tend to level off in June and start to fall in July.
In 2021, the prices began to rise in February, and so far, there hasn’t been any sign of leveling off or decreasing.
“This may not be a typical year,” Mr. Spring said. “It’s hard to say at this point that prices will be going down any time soon. Eventually, they will go down, which is what usually happens, but right now, everything seems to be pointing upward.
“It’s not a fast spike kind of price increase, but fairly gradual for the past few months, just where we get a few cents every week. So it’s not something that makes people’s eyes widen, but you look back to where we were back in March or February — prices have gone up quite a lot. I would expect them to come down, but I would say not any time soon.”
The Southern California AAA spokesman said he doesn’t have any concerns about shortages, at least statewide. He said the shortages that have occurred recently are isolated, many of which were out East. Furthermore, the shortages were due to an inadequate number of tanker truck drivers to deliver gasoline to the stations, which could be attributed to hiring freezes or subsequent economic impacts of the pandemic.
But California residents can continue to expect gas prices exceeding $4 per gallon, which Mr. Spring said can also be because of the state’s tax structure and gasoline formulas. The summer blend costs 10 to 12 cents more than the winter blend.
But he provided some tips for motorists trying to cut down on their gas payments.
Mr. Spring suggested that residents moderate driving styles — avoid “jackrabbit” starts and stops, drive the speed limit rather than 20 miles per hour over and look farther down the road to anticipate stops and accelerations.
He also recommended combining errands throughout the day for one long trip instead of making frequent stops at home, and even removing any heavy items sitting in the trunk or other parts of the car to help reduce consumption.
Mr. Spring said, “The recent increase — that’s all in anticipation of getting back to pre-pandemic levels of business, travel and commerce, and that’s really what’s pushing the price of oil up, and therefore, the price of gas.”