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Gas in SLO County is still costly, but not the priciest

San Luis Obispo County is the second most-expensive market in California for gas, according to the AAA daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Over much of the last year, the county has frequently been the most expensive.

When it comes to diesel, however, San Luis Obispo County has the highest price in California, the fuel report showed.

On Friday, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded cost $3.86. The most-expensive metro area in the state for gasoline was Santa Barbara County, where the per-gallon price was $3.88.

The cheapest gas found by the AAA was in the Sacramento Valley town of Yuba City, where a gallon cost $3.68.

For diesel, San Luis Obispo County’s price stood at $4.31 per gallon.

California fuel prices are always more than the rest of the nation. One reason is the different blending that refineries undertake to meet the state’s air pollution regulations.

Nationally, Americans paid more for gasoline last month than any other January ever.

Retail gasoline prices averaged $3.37 a gallon last month, according to the Oil Price Information Service, a private fuel information service. That compared with the previous record average for the month of $3.095 a gallon, set last year. In 2010, January gasoline prices averaged just $2.71 a gallon.

Increased demand for oil has helped increase crude prices, leaving the U.S. benchmark grade hovering around $100 a barrel in January, up $10 to $15 from year-earlier prices. At the same time, worldwide thirst for diesel, the fuel of industry, has caused U.S. refiners to export large amounts of diesel and therefore to produce less gasoline for U.S. motorists.

And unfortunately, the price spurt may not be over yet, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, a fuel price tracking website.

“Gasoline prices tend to start moving significantly higher toward the end of February and into mid-March, so motorists should be preparing for higher prices,” DeHaan said.

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