Southern California is entering the new year with the likelihood that gas prices will continue hovering at current levels or higher despite significant drops in demand because local refineries are shrinking production capacity, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Weekend Gas Watch. Today’s retail statewide average is $3.24 a gallon for regular unleaded, which is three cents higher than last week.
The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $3.23 per gallon, which is four cents higher than last week, eight cents higher than last month, and 38 cents lower than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $3.23, which is four cents higher than last week, seven cents more than than last month, and 37 cents lower than last year.
On the Central Coast, the average price is $3.24, which is four cents higher than last week and last month, and 43 cents lower than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $3.18, which is four cents higher than last week, six cents higher than last month, and 33 cents lower than last year. In Bakersfield, the $3.14 average price is one cent higher than last week, one cent higher than last month, and 56 cents lower than a year ago today.
All local regions ended the year with annual average prices that were at least 50 cents below 2019 and the lowest since 2017, when annual average prices were about $3 a gallon.
“The pandemic and state regulations have fundamentally changed the landscape of the gasoline market in 2020, according to Oil Price Information Service and other oil industry analysts,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “The pandemic stay-at-home orders drove down demand. But announcements regarding the future of gasoline-powered vehicles in the state and anticipation of more stringent environmental regulations on refineries have caused one refinery to close indefinitely and others to announce they will close in the future or transition to producing low-carbon fuels. That means an even tighter gasoline market with more potential for price spikes from refinery disruptions.”
The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Dec. 31, averages are: