Gas prices are on the rise in Fresno and the rest of the state.
In the Fresno area, prices rose 4 cents in the past month to an average of $2.80 per gallon of unleaded gasoline, according to AAA of Northern California. Prices in the Visalia-Tulare-Porterville area rose 6 cents to an average $2.77 a gallon.
AAA released its monthly gas price report Tuesday. Statewide, prices average $2.88, the second-highest price in the country behind Hawaii. For comparison, California prices are 47 cents higher than a year ago.
The climbing prices come as problems at California refineries led to production declines in each of the past three weeks, according to AAA.
Chevron shut down production refineries in El Segundo and Richmond “due to unplanned maintenance and problems with production equipment,” the report said.
National gas price tracker GasBuddy.com said Wednesday that gas prices had reached the “bottom” nationwide and will start climbing as refineries throughout the United States start gearing up to produce cleaner-burning, more-expensive spring/summer blends of gasoline.
For perspective, GasBuddy projected that the nation’s daily gasoline bill will rise from the current $788 million to as much as $1.1 billion by Memorial Day.
“While I remain optimistic this year will not bring a running of the bulls, we’re likely to see some major increases at the gas pump as the seasonal transition and refinery maintenance get under way,” said Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.
California’s strict emissions standards require in-state refineries to produce Golden State-specific warm-weather gas blends.
Across the nation, GasBuddy predicted that gasoline prices will rise between 35 and 75 cents per gallon between now and early spring, with prices likely peaking in May.
GasBuddy said major cities, including Los Angeles, can expect $3 a gallon gasoline “very soon.”
Motorists throughout the nation have been enjoying unusually low gasoline prices for more than a year, a byproduct of ample U.S. fuel reserves, low crude oil prices and increased domestic fuel production.
In addition, gas prices defied historic trends in 2016. At-the-pump prices were relatively flat throughout last summer, when costs typically swell during the vacation driving season.
Red flags went up Nov. 30, when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced an agreement to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day in 2017.
AAA said those cuts have had an effect just weeks into 2017. On Monday, OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report showed that participating countries had implemented a reduction of 890,000 barrels of oil per day in January.