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Gasoline Prices Decline for 4th Week in a Row

In California, the average cost of a gallon of self-serve regular fell 5.6 cents to $1.978, U.S. energy officials say.

September 23, 2003|Elizabeth Douglass | Times Staff Writer

California gasoline prices declined for the fourth week in a row, dipping below $2 a gallon, federal officials said Monday.

The average price for a gallon of self-serve regular fell 5.6 cents to $1.978 for the week ended Monday, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Department of Energy.

The nationwide average price fell almost as much, dropping 5.4 cents in the last seven days to $1.643 for a gallon of self-serve regular, the EIA said.

EIA officials and others predicted a steady drop in prices after the Labor Day holiday, as refinery troubles get smoothed out and summertime fuel demand eases. Drivers in August suffered through a dramatic increase that triggered calls for investigations and caused the average cost of gasoline in California to jump more than 18 cents a gallon in one week.

Oil industry representatives said the August rise reflected a sharp drop in fuel supplies because of an Arizona pipeline rupture, refinery woes in California and the loss of production from several U.S. refineries forced offline by the widespread power outage in the Midwest and along the East Coast.

Despite the price drop, motorists are still paying substantially more for gasoline than they were a year ago. Nationally, gasoline is averaging 24.8 cents a gallon more than at this time last year, and in California prices are up 40.9 cents, on average.

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