Explaining Southern California's economy

Los Angeles gas price watch: $5 a gallon?

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Matt DeBord/KPCC

DeBord Report always hits this station for affordable gas. It's currently about 12 cents below the L.A. average, but climbing.

The cheapest price for a gallon of regular gas in L.A. is now $3.85, according to GasBuddy.com. As you might expect, the reliably inexpensive Costco is second-cheapest, at $3.87.

The average price in L.A. is still north of $4 a gallon — $4.09 in fact — and moving up very slightly, in the aftermath of the Chevron Richmond refinery fire that took out 15 percent of fuel production in California. Prices have surged in the past week.

But what about $5 a gallon? There can be a big difference in the L.A. area between the cheapest price, the average, and what stations in certain areas are charging. 

For example, a Shell station in downtown L.A. [Actually, it's not in downtown L.A. — I was confusing it with a station that is and where I've bought some pricey gas on a few occasions] always seem to be selling gas that's much more expensive than the average (it's currently $4.93). But the real envelope-pusher is a Mobil station in West Covina, with a gallon of regular currently retailing for just one penny less than $5.

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After the Chevron refinery fire, Gas prices in Los Angeles are rising fast

California Gas Prices Fall 9.6 Cents In One Week

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

These prices are from earlier this year. Prices has been falling, but hey're back up to these levels in Los Angeles.

It’s been about a week since a fire shut down one of Chevron’s two refineries in California. Now gas prices in Southern California are starting to climb and climb fast. So if you need to fill up your tank you’re going to be emptying a little more of your wallet. The average price of a gallon of regular gas has jumped more than 20 cents since last week, according to GasBuddy.com.

That's $3.88 to $4.09 — in less than seven days! Note that this is much higher than the national average of $3.68 per gallon.

The dreaded $4-a-gallon threshold has been breached in Los Angeles. Blame the fire at Chevron’s Richmond refinery in the Bay Area, where 15 percent of the gas that keeps California moving is produced.

The big jump in prices hasn’t surprised anyone. Analysts who follow the oil and gas markets predicted last week that prices for California’s special blend of cleaner-burning fuel would spike. But if four bucks a gallon sounds bad, how does…five bucks strike you? At several stations in Los Angeles, that’s just about where prices are right now. Chevron hasn’t yet started to repair the Richmond refinery, so expect high Southland gas prices to stay elevated for at least the next few weeks.

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Q&A: Chevron Richmond refinery fire and higher gas prices in SoCal

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Corey Bridwell/KPCC

Gas prices at a Chevron station in Pasadena. In Southern California, in the aftermath of Chevron's Richmond fire, prices could climb this high or higher in coming weeks.

The fire that broke out at Chevron's Richmond refinery last night is now under control, but the impact on gas prices in the California is just beginning. Even though the damage was done in the Bay Area, Southern California is likely to feel the impact. Here's a Q&A to explain the situation.

Q: How expensive is gas going to get in SoCal?

A: Analysts who follow the oil-and-gas markets have been reported predicting a spike of 25-40 cents this week, in a California market that's already paying a lot more for its gasoline than the rest of the country: $3.86 per gallon versus $3.63 for the rest of the U.S., according to AAA (via CNBC). Los Angeles drivers are paying even more than that: $3.93 per gallon. That's a ways off from the $5 per gallon peaks that we hit during the summer of 2008. But it still isn't pretty.

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