Record-setting gas prices in Southern California fall slightly, but for how long?

Traffic streams past an industrial site in a long-exposure image
Traffic streams past the Marathon Refinery in Carson.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Gas prices across Southern California dipped slightly on Thursday for the first time in weeks that saw record highs, but concerns about OPEC+’s decision to cut oil production makes it unclear how long any relief at the pump will last.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline across California fell by half a cent overnight, to $6.42, according to the American Automobile Assn. That price is almost $3 higher than the national average, with refinery outages in California being blamed for some supply issues — driving costs higher by an even larger margin than the premium that the state’s motorists typically pay for fuel.

In Los Angeles, the average price for regular was $6.491 a gallon on Thursday, down from $6.494 the day before, according to AAA. San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties — which all set new records this week — also saw minor drops Thursday, as did most counties statewide.

Oil and gas analysts said wholesale prices for California-grade gasoline seem to have peaked this week after shutdowns of at least five refineries statewide led to shortages. But they said it often takes much longer to see prices at the pump reflect those market dips.

But Wednesday’s announcement by OPEC+, a coalition of two dozen oil-producing countries, to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day has the potential to affect California prices, officials said. It’s unclear when or by how much prices could increase, but most experts do not expect a dramatic jump in costs in the Golden State.


A few areas in California still saw prices creep up Thursday, including San Bernardino County, which set a new record Thursday of $6.375 a gallon, up a half cent from Wednesday.

Fuel costs began to rise in September after months of declines, but unlike nationwide increases in gas prices over the summer, this most recent spike has hit California and the West Coast particularly hard.

The high prices recently prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to call on lawmakers to introduce a windfall tax on “rip-off” oil companies and urged state air regulators to allow refineries to begin producing cheaper winter-blend gasoline earlier than usual to help boost supplies and cut prices.

Despite Newsom’s message, any proposed laws wouldn’t be introduced until January, when the Legislature is back in session after an end-of-calendar recess that began in late August.