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Gasoline prices fall more in California than nationwide

In the last week, the average price of a gallon of regular drops 3.6 cents to $4.218 in California but just half a cent to $3.96 nationwide.

May 17, 2011|By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times

California is leading the nation's decline in prices at the gasoline pump, according to the Energy Department's weekly telephone survey of service stations across the U.S.

The average price of a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline in the state fell 3.6 cents over the last week to $4.218. Still, that was $1.10 a gallon higher than the year ago price.

The national average fell just half a cent over the last week to $3.96 a gallon, which was $1.096 a gallon higher than a year ago.

California refineries have been isolated from the weather-related problems and shutdowns that have plagued facilities in other parts of the U.S.

"Rising water levels in Baton Rouge and New Orleans have caused national fuel prices to fluctuate wildly in the past two weeks," said petroleum industry analyst Bob van der Valk.

Over the weekend the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened spillways along the Mississippi River, saving two Louisiana refineries from flooding, van der Valk said.

Lower gasoline prices have been primarily driven by the falling cost of crude oil. Oil futures for June delivery fell $2.28 to $97.37 a barrel on the New York Stock Exchange. In London, Brent crude for June delivery dropped 98 cents to $112.30 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Mark Cooper, research director for the Consumer Federation of America, said Monday that U.S. households will spend an average of nearly $3,100 on gasoline in 2011, up from $2,000 in 2009.

"Pain at the pump, along with the country's oil-import dependence, has produced a growing consensus that the federal government should substantially increase fuel-economy standards," Cooper said.

ron.white@latimes.com

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