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Ivan's Effects Felt in Some U.S. Gas Prices

September 21, 2004|James F. Peltz | Times Staff Writer

Retail gasoline prices were little changed in California in the week ended Monday, but prices jumped in the Midwest in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, a federal survey showed.

The average pump price for self-serve regular in California inched up 0.4 cent to $2.057 a gallon, leaving it 7.9 cents higher than a year ago, the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report.

California's average price hit a record $2.327 a gallon in the week ended Memorial Day, then steadily moved lower during most of the summer amid a buildup of supplies.

But prices firmed again last week in part because of a shortfall of crude from Alaska, which supplies about 25% of the oil for California refineries, said Bob van der Valk, bulk fuels manager at Cosby Oil Co. in Santa Fe Springs. The shortfall stemmed from extended oil field maintenance at Alaska's North Slope, he said in a report Friday.

In the Midwest, the average price jumped 4.5 cents to $1.848 a gallon after Hurricane Ivan roared through the Gulf Coast. Although most key rigs and refineries escaped serious damage, the widespread shutdown of those facilities was expected to lift retail prices.

The average price for regular gasoline nationwide rose 2 cents a gallon to $1.866 -- 22.3 cents higher than a year earlier, the EIA said.

Diesel fuel prices also rose nationwide, causing more financial pain for the trucking industry. The U.S. average for diesel increased 3.8 cents to $1.912 a gallon, while the California average gained 2.1 cents to $2.152 a gallon. The U.S. price was 46.8 cents a gallon higher than a year earlier; the California price was 54.3 cents a gallon higher.

Crude oil for October delivery climbed 76 cents, or 1.7%, to $46.35 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices surged after Yukos Oil Co., whose bank accounts have been frozen by the Russian government because of a tax dispute, said it would halt some oil shipments to China.

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