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California's latest gas price spike may be over

August 20, 2012|By Ronald D. White
  • California gasoline prices have been soaring since the fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery two weeks ago, but things might be turning around now.
California gasoline prices have been soaring since the fire at Chevron's… (U.S. Chemical Safety Board…)

California gasoline prices dropped by the smallest of margins overnight, marking the first decline since the fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery in the Bay Area on Aug. 6. The U.S. average for a gallon of regular gasoline was unchanged since Sunday, leading some analysts that the spike in summer fuel prices may be over.

"The national average has finally begun to cool off after rising nearly every day since the start of July," said GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. "As the West Coast and Great Lakes see refining issues in the rear-view mirror and the end of the summer driving season, we may see a new downward pattern develop which could see average prices falling."

GasBuddy operates LosAngelesGasPrices.com and over 250 similar websites that track gasoline prices at over 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California is $4.118, down 0.1 cents since Sunday, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. That was also 35.3 cents a gallon higher than last month and 3.5 cents higher than last week.

Nationally, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.720. Refinery and pipeline problems in the Midwest have eased, leaving Illinois as the only state in that region with an average that remains above $4 a gallon, at $4.024.

The U.S. average is  26.1 cents a gallon higher than it was a month a ago and 2.4 cents a gallon higher than last week.

The AAA Fuel Gauge Report gets its prices from daily credit-card receipts from more than 100,000 retail outlets across the U.S., which are compiled by the Oil Price Information Service and by Wright Express.

The U.S. oil price, which had been climbing back toward the $100 a barrel mark, was down 34 cents to $95.67 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Analysts said the decline was based on the frequently recurring fear that the European debt crisis would lower demand for crude.

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