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Gasoline prices rise, setting California and U.S. records

California's average gasoline price of $4.129 is a new high for the third week of August, though the ascent has slowed. The U.S. average sets a similar record, and diesel prices raise concern.

August 21, 2012|By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
  • Customers fuel up at an Arco station in Long Beach. The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California rose 26.1 cents in the two weeks since a fire at a Chevron refinery.
Customers fuel up at an Arco station in Long Beach. The average price of a… (Kevork Djansezian, Getty…)

California's gasoline prices may have peaked after the refinery fire at Chevron Corp.'s Richmond facility, but they still rose enough over the last week to reach their highest level ever for the third week of August, the Energy Department said Monday.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California was $4.129, according to the Energy Department's weekly survey of gas stations. That was up 3.3 cents from a week earlier — and 26.1 cents higher than on Aug. 6, just before the refinery fire knocked out parts of the state's third-biggest fuel-producing plant.

The price for the third week of August broke a state record set in 2008, when the California average was $4.037 a gallon.

A separate, daily survey sponsored by AAA found that California's average had stabilized, slipping one-tenth of a cent from Sunday's average to $4.118 a gallon.

The Energy Department survey showed the U.S. average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 2.3 cents over the last week to $3.744, squeaking past the previous national record for the third week of August, set in 2008, of $3.740.

Meanwhile, Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, said diesel prices were the bigger economic worry because they were raising transportation, construction and agricultural costs.

The average price of a gallon of diesel rose 9.8 cents to $4.313 in California and 6.1 cents to $4.026 nationwide — the highest averages since May 14.

Oil futures fell 4 cents to $95.97 a barrel in New York. The London price fell a penny to $113.70 a barrel.

ron.white@latimes.com

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