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California gas prices drop but remain high for this time of year

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California fell 15.7 cents to $3.498 over the last week, but that was still 24.8 cents a gallon higher than a year earlier and 6.9 cents above the old record for this week set in 2007.

December 13, 2011|By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
  • Wes Holliday of Indian Trail, N.C., pumps gas at a Costco warehouse in Matthews, N.C., in November.
Wes Holliday of Indian Trail, N.C., pumps gas at a Costco warehouse in Matthews,… (Chuck Burton, Associated…)

California motorists saw a steep drop in pump prices over the last week, but it wasn't enough to end a long run of record seasonal pain from fuel costs.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California fell 15.7 cents to $3.498, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of service stations released Monday. But that was still 24.8 cents a gallon higher than a year earlier and 6.9 cents above the old record for this week set in 2007.

Nationally, price increases on the East Coast and Midwest blunted the large decline in the West. The U.S. average fell 1.6 cents from the previous week to $3.274, the Energy Department said. That was 29.4 cents a gallon higher than at this time last year and 27.4 cents a gallon above the old record for this week, which was also set in 2007.

In other energy news, oil prices fell slightly as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries opened a new round of talks in Vienna on production quotas.

The U.S. commodities benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude, declined $1.64 to $97.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent North Sea crude was down $1.36 to $107.26 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.

"We continue to see volatility" in oil prices, said Patrick DeHaan, senior energy analyst for GasBuddy.com, a price-tracking website. "One day it's great economic news, then Europe derails the train that pushed oil prices higher and they come back down."

ron.white@latimes.com

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