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No gas rebates in sight as average prices in L.A. barrel toward $6 a gallon — again

The sign at a gas station, seen through a vehicle window, displays a $6.09 cash price.
A vehicle passes an Azusa Shell station that is charging $6.09 a gallon for regular gas.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Experts say a perfect storm of supply-and-demand issues are sending gas prices in Los Angeles soaring again, with the price-per-gallon increasing more than 14 cents in the last 16 days, according to the latest fuel prices tracked by AAA.

L.A. fuel prices are again inching toward a $6-a-gallon record set in March. The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the Los Angeles area is currently $5.91, with plenty of stations charging well over that. A year ago the price was $4.16. Overnight, the price jumped 2.2 cents, the highest level it has risen since February.

The all-time record for the Los Angeles and Long Beach area was set March 28, when the cost of a gallon of regular gas reached $6.07.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers have made little progress toward resolving their differences over how much money Californians should receive to blunt the burden of rising costs at the pump.

Automobile Club of Southern California spokesperson Marie Montgomery said Friday the latest surge is thanks in part to four things: inflation, California’s unique blend of cleaner fuel that costs more to produce; the war in Ukraine, which has seen the international market cut ties with Russia’s oil supply; and global supply chain issues that have carried over to ports and are then passed on to consumers.

“This year has sort of really defied all expectations,” Montgomery said. “It’s very volatile right now, and it’s hard to know what can happen next.”

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After gas prices peaked in March, they dipped nearly 30 cents for about 25 days in a row in L.A. But over the last 16 days, prices have steadily increased. Los Angeles is about 18 cents shy of its record, and it’s anyone’s bet where prices will go next.

“There’s really no way to tell if it’s going to get back up that high,” Montgomery said. “But the landscape is not looking good.”

Across California, the average price for a gallon of regular gas is $5.87, while this time last year it was $4.11. And high prices are hitting drivers across the country.

Gas prices seem to have little logic, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine. Culprits? A combination of market forces, the “mystery gas surcharge” and more.

The East Coast has seen supply shortages that are partly to blame for an uptick in prices there, Montgomery said, but California’s high cost of fuel is enticing to foreign exporters who view the Golden State as a lucrative market and make sure supplies do not dwindle.

What’s more confounding is the fact that domestic gasoline stocks and demand have decreased, but crude oil prices are fraught and do not budge the price at the gas pump.

On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed an $18.1-billion inflation bill that would send $400 checks to every eligible registered vehicle owner. The bill also would earmark $750 million to provide incentive grants to provide three free months of free public transportation and a $439-million pause to the state’s diesel sales tax.

Montgomery says consumers might feel helpless as they watch gas prices climb, but they can take some simple steps to ensure they get more bang for their buck: Make sure a vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and don’t speed.

AAA also recommends drivers download a phone app so they can shop around for the cheapest prices in the area.


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