Auto Club: Gasoline Prices Spike on Thin Supply Margin

Weekly Fuel Prices Report

(LOS ANGELES, April 9, 2004) — Gasoline prices jumped higher last week as consumer demand remained strong while inventories and refinery production declined. However, statewide production is now back to capacity and wholesale gas prices have declined sharply as a result, indicating retail prices could level off in the next week, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch. The national average for gasoline is $1.771, an increase of 2 cents from last week, but down from the record high of 1.773 set on Wednesday.

Currently, the average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles–Long Beach area is $2.216, which is a new record high and 8.9 cents higher than last week. This price is 2 cents higher than last month and 7 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the price is $2.223, which is a new record high, 8 cents above last week, six-tenths of a cent higher than last month and 4 cents above last year. Motorists in the central coast pay an average price of $2.286, which is a new record high, 6.7 cents higher than last week, 1 cent above last month and 11 cents higher than last year.

"In the past week, California's gasoline refineries have been producing at capacity and that has pushed wholesale gasoline prices down from a high of $1.68 per gallon to around $1.37 per gallon," said Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp. "Inventories still are thinner than we're used to. If there are no refinery problems, inventories should build and we could see retail prices level off."

The national average price of gasoline rose 2 cents last week. The price of $1.771 is down from the record high price of $1.773 set on Wednesday. Refineries in many states are going through the last weeks of turnaround, when they conduct maintenance and begin producing special blends of gasoline to meet clean air requirements during the summer months.

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline at metropolitan destinations throughout the nation.

Average prices as of 12:01 a.m., April 9:

Local and Nearby Areas Regular Change from last week Record Price
Los Angeles–Long Beach $2.216 +8.9 cents $2.216 (4/9/2004)
San Diego $2.223 +8.0 cents $2.223 (4/9/2004)
Santa Barbara–Santa Maria–Lompoc $2.286 +6.7 cents $2.286 (4/9/2004)
National Average $1.771 +2.0 cents $1.773 ( 4/7/2004)
Other Areas Regular Change from last week Record Price
New York $1.931 +0.3 cents $1.968 (9/6/2003)
Washington, D.C. $1.797 +1.5 cents $1.797 (05/16/2001)
Boston $1.738 -0.1 cents $1.812 (09/03/2003)
Philadelphia $1.761 0.0 cents $1.807 (09/03/2003)
Atlanta $1.659 +3.3 cents $1.666 (4/6/2004)
Miami $1.815 +0.8 cents $1.820 (4/6/2004)
Chicago $1.871 +1.3 cents $2.142 (06/19/2000)
Detroit $1.750 0.0 cents $2.137 (06/20/2000)
Kansas City, MO $1.609 -2.5 cents $1.790 (06/21/2000)
St. Louis $1.601 -7.8 cents $1.767 (05/17/2001)
Denver $1.743 -0.7 cents $1.780 (06/5/2001)
Dallas $1.672 +2.0 cents $1.673 (4/6/2004)
Houston $1.647 +1.6 cents $1.649 (4/7/2004)
Salt Lake City $1.812 +1.5 cents $1.812 (4/9/2004)
Las Vegas, NV $2.108 +2.0 cents $2.108 (4/9/2004)
Phoenix, AZ $2.013 +7.0 cents $2.146 (08/26/2003)
Seattle $1.881 +4.6 cents $1.969 (9/4/2003)
San Francisco $2.268 +5.7 cents $2.276 (3/19/2003)
Honolulu $2.054 +1.5 cents $2.055 (4/7/2004)

###