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Gasoline Prices Back Up

California and the West

March 07, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

California's gasoline prices did a U-turn over the last week, rising 4.1 cents a gallon and joining a widespread increase in fuel prices nationwide, according to a federal survey released Monday.

California drivers paid an average of $2.48 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline, which followed three weeks of declining prices, according to the weekly survey of service stations by the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the Energy Department. A year ago, the average was 25.1 cents lower.

U.S. gasoline prices soared an average of 7.7 cents to $2.331 a gallon in the last week, up 33.2 cents from this time last year.

Pump prices have been increasing because of higher crude oil costs and annual refinery maintenance. Another factor, analysts say, is the transition to making gasoline using ethanol rather than methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, which is banned in several states because of its link to water contamination.

In futures trading Monday, near-term U.S. crude settled down $1.26 to $62.41 a barrel, ending a four-day rally that had pushed prices to a one-month high of $63.92 a barrel as speculation grew that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries wouldn't reduce its quotas at a meeting Wednesday.

The U.S. gasoline price average began rising two weeks ago on the strength of higher prices in the Midwest, up 12 cents to $2.379 a gallon, according to the latest weekly survey

The West Coast had the most expensive gasoline, with the price up 3.9 cents at $2.422 a gallon. Los Angeles topped the survey of cities with gasoline up 5.6 cents at $2.512 a gallon.

Gulf Coast states had the cheapest gas at $2.245 a gallon, up 9.3 cents. Among major cities, Houston had the best deal, up 3.5 cents at $2.14 a gallon.

Truckers in California paid the most for diesel at $2.739 a gallon, up 5.1 cents. U.S. diesel was $2.545 a gallon, up 7.4 cents.

Reuters was used in compiling this report.

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