The drop in gasoline prices in California that began more than a month ago has slowed to a crawl, but there may be good news ahead when one of the state’s most important refineries returns to full production as early as this month.
When operating at its full 245,000-barrel-a-day capacity, Chevron Corp.'s Richmond refinery is the second most productive in the state. But it has been operating at lower levels since a fire idled part of the facility in August.
Analysts at the Oil Price Information Service said the refinery could be back at full operation as early as this month.
The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California on Thursday was $4.046, down 0.2 cents since last week, and down 17.3 cents since last month, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Weekend Gas Watch.
In addition, “wholesale prices have dropped again in recent days, so we don’t see any indications at the moment that pump prices will start going back up,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeff Spring.
The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.084 a gallon, which is 1.3 cents less than last week, 22 cents lower than last month, and 24 cents lower than last year.
In San Diego, the average price is $4.058, which is one cent below last week, 20 cents below last month, and 25 cents lower than last year.
On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.161, up three-tenths of a cent from last week, 16 cents lower than a month ago, and 21 cents less than last year.
In the Inland Empire, the average per-gallon price is $4.053, down 1.3 cents from last week, 22 cents lower than last month, and 26 cents less than last year.
As usual, it pays to shop around. GasBuddy.com, for example, reported variations of 50 cents to $1 a gallon in the price of a gallon of regular gasoline.