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RISING CALIFORNIA GAS PRICES SEES NATIONAL AVERAGE UP FOR 9TH STRAIGHT WEEK

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The country-wide average price of gasoline is up for the ninth straight week, rising 9 cents in the last week to stand at $2.83 per gallon, the highest level in 172 days according to GasBuddy data compiled from over 10 million individual price reports covering 135,000 gas stations across the United States. The average cost for diesel rose 2.3 cents to $3.04 per gallon.

“The national average gas price has now risen for the ninth straight week, adding 57 cents a gallon in that time and now costing Americans about $200 million more at the pumps today. The effect of rising prices isn’t about to let up as a spate of refinery outages on the West Coast and in California has given way to a tightening of summer blended gasoline in advance of the summer driving season set to kick just over a month,“ said Dan McTeague, petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “Even with early signs of markets reaching their heights for California spec fuel, the damage has been done and gas prices are still playing catch up to the highs of April over the coming next couple of weeks, especially with the Easter long weekend approaching. With California pump prices now firmly over $4 a gallon, the march to $4.15 may be attained in that time as the rest of the nation faces the prospect of $3 a gallon by month’s end.”

Crude oil prices have relented slightly this morning with West Texas Intermediate down 54 cents to $63.35 after posting a more modest 81 cent a barrel rise to $63.89 last week and managing to hold near multi-month highs. Dated Brent crude also managed a more impressive $1.19 a barrel gain on the week to end at $71.55, its highest posting since November 7.

Oil inventories saw another surge last week according to data from the Energy Information Administration, posting a rise of 7 million barrel, while gasoline stole the show registering a 7.7 million barrel draw in stockpiles, their third largest weekly drop ever, even as refinery utilization rates rose 1.1%, despite a fall of 7.2% for the Rocky Mountains and a drop of 2.1% due to ongoing refinery problem in California. The dramatic fall in gasoline inventories places them 4.1% below last year’s stockpiles while distillate stockpiles are about .3% below a year ago and now 6% lower than the five-year average.

Gasoline prices rose in every state last week with the West Coast and Southwest taking the brunt of the pain due to several refinery outages that continued to hamper the transition of CARB-mandated summer gasoline that began at the start of the month. Combined with extensive maintenance in the region, drivers have seen a 64 cent per gallon rise in average gas prices in California, up nearly 19 cents in the week alone and now sitting in the $4 a gallon range.

13 states saw average prices gas prices rise double digits across the West Coast, Southwest, Rockies and Midwest: Nevada (+21 cents), California (+18 cents), Utah (+14 cents), Idaho (+13 cents), Indiana (+12 cents), were the big risers, while prices in Alabama and Wisconsin rose a more modest 4 cents as North Carolina, Ohio and New Hampshire increased 5 cents on the week. The most common gas price seemed to be $2.62 a gallon, followed by $2.72, which rose from third place last week, and $2.52 in third. $2.83 was the fourth most common price. The average price of the most expensive 10% of gas stations surged 11% to $3.91, while the average of the least expensive 10% of gas stations rose 6 cents to $2.41 per gallon.

Gas prices are expected to increase more moderately on the West Coast as signs of weakening markets prices there begin to emerge, while the rest of the country follows a slight upwards trend given the switch-over to summer gasoline in the northeast and ongoing effects of lengthy refinery maintenance turnarounds generally. As a result, rising gasoline prices have not yet hit their peak and may still be a couple of weeks away.

GasBuddy is a company that connects drivers with their Perfect Pit Stop. As the leading source for crowdsourced, real-time fuel prices at more than 150,000 gas station convenience stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia, millions of drivers use the GasBuddy app and website every day to find gas station convenience stores based on fuel prices, location and ratings/reviews. GasBuddy’s first-of-its-kind fuel savings program, Pay with GasBuddy, has saved Americans more than $6 million at the pumps since its launch in 2017.