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Gasoline prices drop in California

The nationwide decline in gas prices slows, meanwhile.

June 12, 2012|By Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
  • A filling station in Chicago shows a high price for premium gasoline.
A filling station in Chicago shows a high price for premium gasoline. (M. Spencer Green, Associated…)

California's average pump price fell 9.6 cents over the last week, according to the Energy Department's weekly fuel survey, but declines across the rest of the U.S. slowed and may be nearing their end, analysts said.

The price of a gallon of regular gasoline in California was $4.164 on Monday, compared with $4.260 a week earlier, the Energy Department said. California pump prices have fallen for four straight weeks and are 21.2 cents off their high for the year: $4.376 a gallon, set March 12. But they are still 22.4 cents a gallon higher than a year earlier.

Part of the reason for the price drop is that California refineries are producing more of the state's expensive blend of gasoline after maintenance and other problems reduced supplies to some of their lowest levels in years.

The most recent data from the California Energy Commission's Weekly Fuels Watch Report, for example, showed that production was 6.96 million barrels, up 8.8% from a year earlier.

The same report also showed that refinery stocks of California blend gasoline was 12.1% below year-earlier amounts.

"While price decreases have heated up on the West Coast, decreases are drying up in other areas such as the Great Lakes," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices.

"Prices in the past few years have bottomed out in June. We could see a similar situation play out this year," DeHaan said.

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.572, down 4 cents, the Energy Department said. The U.S. average has fallen for 10 straight weeks from its high for the year of $3.941, set April 2. The national average was 14.1 cents lower than a year earlier.

In other energy news, the U.S. benchmark oil contract fell $1.40 to $82.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London trading, the European benchmark fell $1.47 to $98 a barrel.

ron.white@latimes.com

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