Business

Gas prices in California hit new record high at $4.67 a gallon

Petroleum IndustryAAAExxon Mobil CorporationJerry Brown

Gas prices in California are at a record high for the third day in a row, up slightly more than a cent overnight at $4.668 for a gallon of regular just as motorists start their work week.

The cost of fueling up has soared in recent days, as refinery and pipeline problems squeezed supply. The steep and sudden run-up caused Gov. Jerry Brown to call Sunday for a quick infusion of winter-blend gasoline.

At the pump, drivers first saw prices surge to an all-time high Saturday, when they hit $4.614 a gallon and beat out a previous record set in 2008. By Sunday, the price of a gallon of regular was at $4.655, according to AAA’s daily fuel-price survey.

Monday’s price is 50 cents higher than it was a week ago and 86 cents above its level a year ago. In the Los Angeles and Long Beach region, motorists are shelling out $4.703 for a regular gallon, compared with $4.69 in Orange County, $4.725 in San Diego and $4.738 in San Francisco.

Why gas prices are going up

Each of those prices is a record high for the area.

Nationwide, the average price for a regular gallon is $3.818, up less than a cent from Sunday. California has the most expensive gas in the country, higher even than Hawaii, where the average is $4.406 a gallon.

But California drivers may soon catch a break.

The Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, which shut down Oct. 1 in a power outage, resumed operations Friday. Analysts blamed the closure, as well as reduced production this summer at a major Northern California refinery, for much of the state’s price hikes.

On Sunday, Brown told smog regulators at the California Air Resources Board to allow oil companies to start selling winter-blend gasoline.

The cheaper blend usually doesn’t hit the market until Oct. 31. It evaporates more quickly in warm weather than its summer counterpart, making it potentially more damaging to the environment.

But experts said the move could push down prices up to 20 cents in a week, though consumers likely won’t see relief for several days. Even as prices hit new highs, the increases have narrowed, from 17.1 cents Friday to 12.8 cents Saturday, 4.1 cents Sunday and 1.3 cents Monday.

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