Why are gas prices rising so fast this spring?
Gasoline prices in the central San Joaquin Valley continued retreating this week, with the average price for regular unleaded dropping about six cents per gallon over the past week.
After peaking at about $4.08 per gallon in early May, the average price in Fresno dipped to $3.91 per gallon on Monday, according to AAA Gas Prices. By comparison, the average price a week ago was $3.97, settling below $4 per gallon at the start of the week for the first time since late April.
But gasoline in the Valley still costs an average of 60 to 70 cents more per gallon now than it did in early March at the start of a two-month string of increases triggered in part by California’s seasonal switchover to a summer blend of gasoline. Refineries in the state also went through both planned and unplanned maintenance that created pressure on gasoline supplies across California.
The statewide average on Monday was $3.88 per gallon for regular unleaded – the highest average price across the United States. The national average price was $2.75 per gallon.
GasBuddy.com, a website and mobile app that lets customers report fuel prices in real time at stations across the country, reported that the cheapest gasoline available in Fresno was $3.49 per gallon at the Super 7 convenience store at Maple and Belmont avenues in southeast Fresno. The highest price reported by GasBuddy.com users was $4.29 per gallon at a Chevron station at the corner of Belmont and Fowler avenues, also in southeast Fresno.
The California Energy Commission reported that refineries in California produced about 6.5 million barrels of summer-blend gasoline in the week ending May 31, the most recent data available; stocks of California-blend fuel were estimated at just over 6 million barrels. By comparison, as retail gasoline prices peaked earlier in May, gasoline inventories were about 1.5 million barrels less than they are now.