The national average for gasoline is falling, but in California, the cost of regular gas jumped more than 13 cents since last week.
The Western U.S., faced with the lowest May gasoline supplies in 20 years, is seeing a spike in the price at the pump. Up from $4.210 a week ago, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the Golden State is now $4.345, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, reports the L.A. Times. The national average is $3.727 per gallon.
Gasoline suppliers in Washington have been looking to California following a fire that forced a refinery shutdown in March. This, plus the operation of fewer refineries overall, have analysts pointing to refinery maintenance problems as the source of the spikes and shortages. They disagree about how long the situation will last.
Charles Langley, a gasoline analyst with the San Diego-based Utility Consumers' Action Network, said the current California fuel prices were the perverse result of refinery system that allows prices to rise even when oil prices are dropping and fuel demand is down. "With only 12 refineries in California, any shutdown becomes a major problem," Langley said. "This is all about supply and demand. They restrict supply and demand more money."
VIDEO BONUS: In his 1981 piece Elephant Parts (which won the first Grammy Award for Music Video), Michael Nesmith opens with a parody of social satire that pumps with relevance, provided it's adjusted somewhat for inflation and mens' trouser trends.
Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner