A regular gallon of gas costs more than $6 on average in some parts of the Los Angeles area while prices reached as high as $7 in some parts of California on Tuesday as dwindling oil supplies put the squeeze on American motorists.
It was the first time since October of last year that gas in LA and Orange Counties surpassed the $6 threshold, according to Fox 11 Los Angeles TV.
The national average of a gallon of gas stood at $3.88, rising some eight cents in the span of a week, according to the American Automobile Association.
At this time last year, a gallon of gas was 18 cents cheaper nationally, AAA said.
Relief doesn’t appear to be on the horizon, at least not in the short term.
Chevron CEO Mike Wirth predicted that oil prices would get “close” to $100 a barrel.
“Supply is tightening, inventories are drawing … the trends would suggest, we are certainly on our way, we are getting close (to $100/bbl),” Wirth, who heads the nation’s second largest energy producer, told Bloomberg TV on Monday.
The uptick in gas prices has fueled higher rates of inflation — forcing consumers to shell out more for fuel while limiting discretionary spending.
As of Tuesday, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline costs motorists in Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, $6.03.
A gallon of gas would set back drivers in neighboring Orange County $6.02, according to the latest data from AAA.
The most expensive gasoline in the state could be found in Alpine County, the area that lies about 120 miles east of Sacramento and which straddles the border with Nevada.
The average price of a gallon of regular fuel in Alpine County cost $6.99, according to AAA.
California has traditionally been plagued by the nation’s highest gas prices on average due mainly to the state’s high taxation rate as well as its clean energy regulations.
The Golden State hits drivers with both an excise tax on a gallon of gas as well as a sales tax, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
The tax revenue is used by the state to fix and maintain roadways and mass transit systems.
In October 2022, gas prices in LA hit a record $6.49 — prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration to distribute gas rebates to Californians ranging from $200 to $1,050 depending on income level.
The most significant factor that determines gas prices in California and the rest of the nation is the price of oil.
Oil prices reached $95 a barrel for the first time this year on Tuesday — a trend fueled by cuts in supply by petroleum producers Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading at around $95.33 per barrel as of Tuesday morning.
The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, was priced at $91.48 per barrel.
On June 27, WTI stood at $67.70 per barrel.
“Oil costs are putting upward pressure on pump prices, but the rise is tempered by much lower demand,” AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said.
“The slide in people fueling up is typical, with schools back in session, the days getting shorter, and the weather less pleasant,” Gross added.
“But the usual decline in pump prices is being stymied for now by these high oil costs.”