The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline reached the $4 mark in Los Angeles and Orange counties today for the first time since mid-June after huge price hikes triggered by a Northern California refinery fire expected to reduce gasoline supplies.
The Los Angeles County average price rose 5.7 cents to $4.013, surpassing the $4 mark for the first time since June 16, while the Orange County price increased 5.6 cents to $4, reaching that level for the first time since June 14, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.
The daily increases in both Los Angeles and Orange counties were the largest since May 12. There were similar overnight increases a day earlier.
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The Los Angeles County average price has risen 28 of the past 29 days and is 15.4 cents more than one week ago, 31.1 cents higher than one month ago and 24.3 cents greater than one year ago. It has risen 32.1 cents over the past 29 days, including 5.6 cents on Thursday.
The Orange County average price has risen 27 of the past 29 days and is 15.5 cents more than one week ago, 34.5 cents higher than one month ago and 24.6 cents greater than one year ago. It has risen 34.2 cents over the past 29 days, including 5.5 cents on Thursday.
"Monday night's major fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond had an immediate effect on the wholesale gasoline market on Tuesday, which caused gas prices to shoot up since then," said Jeffrey Spring of the Automobile Club of Southern California.
"Southern Californians have already been experiencing increased pump prices for nearly a month due to higher oil prices and this incident has just made the increases come even more quickly.
"However, since that Northern California refinery is still partly operating, the impact may not be as great as what happened in February with the Cherry Point refinery fine in Washington. More should be known in the next few days." The fire at a BP refinery in Washington state in February left the plant out of commission until May, causing gasoline prices in the Pacific Northwest to rise about 70 cents.