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Refinery outages, pipeline ruptures send gasoline prices climbing

The average price of a gallon of regular jumps 13.7 cents nationwide and 6.6 cents in California in the last week.

August 07, 2012|By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
  • Midwest gasoline prices soared 25.7 cents a gallon during the last week, with Chicago residents now paying an average of $4.228. Above, a service station in Chicago.
Midwest gasoline prices soared 25.7 cents a gallon during the last week,… (Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press )

A combination of refinery outages and oil pipeline spills in Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois helped drive the U.S. average for a gallon of regular gasoline up 13.7 cents over the last week to $3.645 on Monday, an Energy Department survey showed.

The California average rose 6.6 cents to $3.868 a gallon, leaving the state in the rare position of having cheaper gasoline than many parts of the Midwest.

The surge in the U.S. average started with ruptures in petroleum pipelines that served the Green Bay, Wis., and Chicago areas. Refinery outages in Indiana and Illinois added to the sudden drop in supplies and deliveries, sending Midwest gasoline prices soaring 25.7 cents during the last week.

In Ohio, motorists were paying an average of $3.91 a gallon, while Chicago residents were paying an average of $4.228.

"Watching the national average rise since last week, one might have expected war broke out in the Middle East or a major hurricane shutting down production, neither of which happened, yet gasoline prices spiked," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for the price watch websites run by GasBuddy.com.

DeHaan said price relief might not come until the end of the summer driving season and the switch, later this year, to colder-weather gasoline blends that are less expensive to produce than summer blends.

U.S. oil prices continued to regain ground after falling to a low for the year of $77.69 a barrel at the end of June. U.S. benchmark crude climbed 80 cents to close at $92.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude, the European benchmark used to price much of the oil imported into the U.S., rose 61 cents to $109.55.

ron.white@latimes.com

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