The self-serve regular gas average price in Los Angeles County jumped 2.7 cents a gallon, to $4.052 on April 13.
That rise came just one day after prices rose 4.8 cents to top the $4 mark for the first time since Aug. 3, 2015.
According to data from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service, the average price has risen 34 consecutive days.
It is 22.5 cents more than a week before, 66.6 cents higher than one month ago and 45.7 cents greater than one year ago.
What’s going on?
Jeffrey Spring, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager, said the recent sharp increases are the result of a series of refinery issues that have reduced supply.
Spring said, “Out of the 10 major refineries in California, six are dealing with planned maintenance, unplanned breakdowns or both, and four of those refineries are in Southern California.”
“(Wednesday’s) report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicated that Los Angeles gasoline inventories dropped by about two million barrels and a source reported to Oil Price Information Service that Southern California received no imported gasoline in the last week.”
Those sizable hikes are bad news for Antelope Valley’s tens of thousands of long distance commuters.
But they also cause pocketbook pain among every consumer in the Southland, as hauling goods to market costs rise.
Wholesale cost of U.S. goods and services surged in March and almost all of the increase reflected the higher cost of gas. Evidence of rising inflation nationwide is largely absent.
The U.S. producer price index climbed 0.6% in March, the government said. Economists polled by MarketWatch had predicted a 0.3% increase.
Yet another measure of wholesale costs that strips out volatile food and energy prices, known as core PPII, was flat on the past month.
The rate of wholesale inflation in the past 12 months rose to 2.2% in March from 1.9%, but it’s still much lower compared to last summer, when it touched a seven-year high of 3.4%.
Although price gouging is often suspected, for many decades California has been hit with gasoline hikes almost every year and the experts say that it’s because spring is when the refineries do maintenance.
There is a persistent need for more refineries to be built, but that might tame the price of gasoline in Southern California, cutting prices for consumers but shaving profits for the oil companies.