San Diego County gasoline price increases again

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline in San Diego County rose sixth-tenths of a cent Tuesday to $1.883, the seventh increase in the past eight days and 19th in the past 22.

The average price is 4.4 cents more than a week ago and 6 cents more than a month ago but $1.469 less than at this time last year and $2.747 less than the record high of $4.63 set on June 19, according to figures from the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

The increases to the pump prices are the result of the rising wholesale gasoline price, caused in part by the bankruptcy filing of the parent company of a Bakersfield refinery, which prompted concerns over a possible shortage, according to Marie Montgomery, an Automobile Club of Southern California spokeswoman.

Another possible reason for the increase is that "investors looked at California gas prices compared to other states and thought wholesale was a great value and started buying more of it, pushing up the price,'' she told City News Service.

Gasoline prices in California are typically among the highest in the nation but at one point had fallen to 13th in the nation, Montgomery said. They have now risen to third, behind only Alaska and Hawaii.

Gasoline usage and prices often fall to lows in December and January. Usage then rises, prompting a "spring spike'' in prices, Montgomery said.

"However, we're in an economic situation that's unprecedented, so the patterns of the past might not repeat themselves,'' she said.

The national average price of a gallon of self-serve unleaded regular gasoline rose 1.6 cents today to $1.688 - 7.2 cents more than a week ago but 4.5 cents less than a month ago, $1.418 less than this time last year and $2.426 less than the record high of $4.114 set July 17.

California's gasoline prices are typically higher than the national average and among the highest in the nation because of taxes and a state law mandating a "boutique blend'' of fuel to reduce polluting emissions, Montgomery said.

   
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