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California gas on track to average more than $4 a gallon for 2012

November 02, 2012|By Ronald D. White
  • On Oct. 9, California's average price for a gallon of regular hit a record $4.671. Now the state is poised to average more than $4 a gallon over the course of a full year for the first time ever.
On Oct. 9, California's average price for a gallon of regular hit a… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

Californians have seen some wickedly high gasoline prices this year, including a new record of $4.671 a gallon on Oct. 9, but the state's prices have never averaged more than $4 a gallon for an entire year. That is likely to change in 2012.

Through the first 306 days of 2012, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in California has been $4.09, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California, using statistics compiled by the Oil Price Information Service.

The new record average will break the one set last year and remain above $4, barring an almost impossible collapse in price during the last 59 days of the year.

The state is on pace to break the current record for a year-long average price by a whopping 28 cents a gallon. The current record average for a year is $3.81 a gallon.

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"We've really gotten slammed this year by a variety of problems, real and perceived," said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Automobile Club of Southern California, "and this year the prices just seemed to become even more volatile."

California relies on 14 refineries for its gasoline and there were several outages, including an August fire at Chevron's Richmond refinery in the Bay Area that knocked out its crude unit for at least the rest of the year.

California companies also export gasoline and diesel fuel in spite of sometimes tight supplies.

In late September, a power outage at another of the state's large refineries occurred during a time when the state was near five-years lows in refinery production and gasoline supplies.

Several elected officials have called for investigations into California's fuel prices, including Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

There is a little good news.

Today's average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in California is $4.044, down 62.7 cents from the record.

That means that the state's average will probably drop below $4 a gallon sometime this weekend, for the first time since August.

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