SLO's gas prices are third highest in California

County has third highest prices in state after recent spike to $4.11 per gallon

kleslie@thetribunenews.comFebruary 8, 2013 

Norberto Beltran fills up his vehicle with gas at Conserv Fuel in San Luis Obispo in February 2013.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Gas prices are on the rise across California, but for once, San Luis Obispo County does not have the highest prices in the state.

That honor goes to Los Angeles, where the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas was $4.12 on Friday, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. San Diego was second-most expensive, at $4.117

San Luis Obispo was in third place with an average of $4.11 a gallon after jumping 3 cents overnight. The county still holds the record for highest average ever recorded in the state: On Oct. 9, 2012, a gallon of unleaded averaged $4.75, according to the Fuel Gauge Report.

San Luis Obispo resident Ted White, who was filling his tank at the Conserv station on Broad Street on Friday, said the constant fluctuations in prices have left him feeling confused at the pump.

“They just feel so erratic these days,” White said. “I just don’t know what to expect.”

White, a pizza delivery man, said because of his job, whenever gas prices increase, he’s left with less money in his pocket.

“It takes a lot away from my salary,” White said. “You know, us delivery guys, we live on the tips, and with this, it just takes a lot out of that.”

Drivers have also faced gas price increases nationally. GasBuddy.com reports the national average at $3.534. This is up 8 cents from the same time last year.

GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Gregg Laskoski said the increase in national prices is largely because of refineries across the country decreasing their output as they transition to the summer-blend fuel.

This, coupled with a weaker dollar and high crude oil prices, has led to the sharp increase in the past week, Laskoski said.

“When the value of the dollar goes down, the price of crude goes up,” he said. “When crude goes up, that also brings up prices at the pump.”

Laskoski said one of the reasons the increase has hit California so hard is that as refineries transition from the winter blend, West Coast refineries are operating at the lowest capacity of any region.

Before rotating in a new fuel blend, refineries must halt production and address maintenance issues, which tends to lower their output, he said.

Other regions, such as the Midwest and Gulf Coast, are operating at more than 82 percent capacity. West Coast refineries are operating at 75 percent.

Some Southern California refineries have experienced more problems than usual, Laskoski said, which contributed to the lower output. This means less gasoline is coming out of those refineries, which can cause price jumps, he said.

And prices are just going to keep increasing, he said.

“We expect that prices will continue to increase incrementally in the next few weeks. We don’t expect them to increase at such a sharp rate, but they will increase.”

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