According to AAA data, California’s gas prices are nearing an average of $5.79 per gallon, showing an increase of 29 cents in the past week and 54 cents from the previous month.
Some places, such as Long Beach, have even crossed the $6 threshold with current prices at $6.06 per gallon, a 70-cent spike in the last month. AAA data also indicates gas prices in Alpine County, close to the Nevada border, approaching a staggering $7 per gallon.
The president of Lipow Oil Associates, Andy Lipow, points to recent refinery interruptions as the cause. He told FOX Business, “We’ve had a sequence of disturbances, beginning with Hurricane Hilary causing power outages, and then issues at Chevron refineries” in areas like the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The PBF Torrance refinery is also undergoing maintenance, affecting some of its gasoline production units.
The California Energy Commission states that the vast majority (90%) of the state’s consumed gasoline is refined locally. Hence, unforeseen refinery issues can significantly spike gas prices.
A June 22, 2022, snapshot showed a Chevron station in Los Angeles listing gas prices over $7 a gallon. West Coast gasoline stocks saw their lowest since October 2022 leading up to Labor Day this year, Lipow mentions.
He also highlighted a drop in California’s refining capacity by 9.5% since 2020. This challenge is predicted to amplify when the Phillips 66 refinery in the Bay Area closes by year-end, leaving only a handful of refineries across key regions producing gasoline. The state’s 14 refineries, scattered across the Bay Area, Central Valley, and Los Angeles, typically process over 1.6 million barrels of crude oil daily.
Other states are also feeling the ripple effects of California’s refinery woes. Issues faced by refineries in Texas and New Mexico, which usually supply Arizona, have prompted Arizona to lean on California for extra gasoline. As a result, Arizona’s gas prices have jumped to $4.65 per gallon, marking a 14-cent increase within a week and a 42-cent rise from the previous month, as per AAA data.
Andy Gross of AAA told FOX Business that the high prices would persist until refineries operate at their regular capacity.