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California gas prices headed higher as spring approaches

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline hit $3.648 over the last week in Los Angeles and Long Beach, up 3.6 cents from a week earlier.

In Orange County, the average had climbed the same amount, to $3.642 a gallon.

But experts say it could be a lot worse. Recent increases are driven in part by annual refinery maintenance and California's early switch to a more expensive summer blend of gasoline.

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That's part of the reason gas prices have jumped, sometimes sharply, each spring for more than a decade, said Jeff Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Price jumps also stem from increased exporting of refined gasoline from California to countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy.com.

Experts are not expecting a big jump in prices in the coming weeks and months.

"So far, wholesale prices have not moved up high enough to indicate a spike in the near future," Spring said.

Kloza is predicting that 2014 gasoline prices in California will be lower over the course of the year than they were last year. This week in 2013, the average gas price was $3.99 a gallon.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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