The rapid rise in gasoline prices, sparked by a refinery fire last week, has slowed and may have peaked, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Since the fire at Chevron Corp.'s Richmond Refinery in the Bay Area on Aug. 6, the average retail price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California has shot up 25.8 cents. At one point, it jumped 5 cents overnight.
Although part of the refinery damaged by the fire is still shut down, the rise in prices has cooled.
"Southern California gas prices have actually only risen by about 2 cents since Sunday, and most of the week-to-week increase occurred last Friday and Saturday," Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring said.
"It appears that wholesale gasoline buyers feel that for now, they have captured most of the cost increase that will result from the fire."
Chevron has not disclosed how much production at the refinery has been reduced.
As of Thursday, the average price of regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was $4.115 a gallon. That was up 15.9 cents from a week earlier, up 38 cents from a month earlier and up 40 cents from a year earlier.
In the Inland Empire, the average was $4.09, up 17.1 cents in a week. In San Diego, it was $4.10, up 16.1 cents in a week. Orange County's average was $4.094, up 15 cents.
Chevron officials and members of a U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation team were not yet able to safely access the part of the refinery where the fire began. Some structural beams apparently were damaged by the heat.
Nine nearby residents have sued Chevron, alleging gross negligence in the facility's maintenance.