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Gas prices climb in California after 6 weeks of drops

The national average rises too. And the oil industry is expected to post its highest second-quarter earnings since 2008.

July 26, 2011|By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
  • Susan Bridges pumps gas into her car in Little Rock, Ark. Nationally, the average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 1.7 cents to $3.699 -- up 95 cents from a year earlier.
Susan Bridges pumps gas into her car in Little Rock, Ark. Nationally, the… (Danny Johnston, Associated…)

Gasoline prices are on the rise again, and analysts are predicting another round of hefty profits for oil companies.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California rose 1.8 cents in the last week to $3.818, breaking a six-week streak of declines, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of service stations.

That period of decline was not nearly enough to undo eight months of largely uninterrupted price increases, which ended in early May. Californians were paying an average of $3.134 a gallon at this time last year.

Nationally, the average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 1.7 cents to $3.699, which was 95 cents higher than a year earlier.

Analysts blamed the bounce back on global oil prices, adding that several outage-hampered refineries were returning to full production but not quickly enough to reduce retail gasoline prices.

Meanwhile, analysts expect the oil industry this week will post the highest second-quarter earnings since 2008, the year fuel prices set records.

"It's a rising tide that raises all boats," Fadel Gheit, senior energy analyst for Oppenheimer & Co., said in a note to investors.

Mindful of the federal deficit stalemate in Washington and the likely ire of consumers, the American Petroleum Institute went on the offensive Monday, conducting a teleconference highlighting the oil industry's contributions to the American economy.

"When our industry does well, America does well too," said Kyle Isakower, vice president of regulatory and economic policy for the institute. Isakower said the oil industry produces 7.7% of the nation's gross domestic product and is one of the nation's biggest employers.

Oil prices ended the day slightly lower after briefly rising above $100 a barrel last week in New York futures trading.

The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, closed at $99.20 a barrel, down 67 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The European benchmark, Brent North Sea crude, fell 73 cents to $117.94 a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange in London.

ron.white@latimes.com

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