Los Angeles gas prices fall for 16th day in a row, likely to keep dropping
Gas prices in Los Angeles fell to a 16-day low Friday, down almost 34 cents from a week ago — a trend experts are hopeful will continue.
After reaching record highs earlier this month following refinery outages across the state, gas prices in Los Angeles fell to $5.87 on Friday, according to data from the American Automobile Assn. The statewide average fell to $5.83, with California leading the nation in decreases this past week, dropping more than 30 cents below the average from seven days prior.
“A lot of the problems that led to a surge in prices have been addressed,” said Patrick De Haan, an oil and gas analyst for GasBuddy. “It’s been a pretty nice drop, and pretty quick really.”
California gas prices hit highs as refinery issues affect supplies. The volatility highlights vulnerabilities of the state’s transitioning energy market.
Barring any drastic changes to the market, De Haan said he expects prices will continue to decrease across Los Angeles and California.
“We are not yet at the end and gas prices will keep falling,” De Haan said. “If everything stays consistent, we’ll drop another 25 to 50 cents.”
Doug Shupe, a spokesperson for the Automobile Club of Southern California, was not willing to make specific estimates about how far prices will fall, but he agreed with De Haan’s assessment that prices should keep dropping, especially if gasoline demand remains low and oil prices keep sliding.
“Now that those refineries have come back online, that’s leading to downward pump prices,” Shupe said. “The question is how low will they go?... Right now we’re looking good for lower pump prices through this weekend and next week.”
However, California prices remain about $2 above the national average, which fell to $3.82 Friday, according to AAA. And average prices in Los Angeles and the state are still historically high, about 30 cents above where they were a month prior, and more than a dollar above where they were a year ago, per AAA.
The Biden administration plans to release 15 million barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic reserve to counter recent production cuts announced by OPEC+ nations.
President Biden this week touted the released more than 15 million barrels of oil from the national stockpile, part of an ongoing effort to keep prices down. But De Haan called that just a “re-announcement” of the administration’s previous plans, doubting it will have any major impact on gas prices since the market already expected the move.
And while gasoline prices have kept fluctuating, the renewable and cleaner-burning primarily ethanol fuel, known as E85, has remained significantly lower than regular gasoline, about 70 cents cheaper per gallon nationally, AAA data show. E85, or flex fuel, costs Americans on average $3.15 per gallon, a cheaper price tag for drivers with certain engines made for the fuel blend, typically marked by a yellow gas cap.
“Prices for E85 have remained relatively consistent and relatively low,” De Haan said. “It’s not subject to the same bottlenecks that traditional gasoline.”
But, he said there’s still a lot of hesitancy to make the switch, and most vehicles on the road are not designed for the blend.
Shupe, however, pointed to ways all drivers can maximize fuel purchases — like checking tire pressure, lightening vehicle loads and staying up to date on car maintenance — no matter current prices.
“We want to make fuel efficiency as part of their daily routine,” Shupe said. But, he said he also remains “hopeful the factors are in place to see even more declines.”
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