The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County rose three-tenths of a cent Friday to $4.237, one day after increasing two-tenths of a cent.
The average price has risen 39 of the past 42 days, increasing 21.1 cents to its highest amount since Oct. 11, 2019, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. It is 3 cents more than one week ago, 14 cents higher than one month ago and $1.274 greater than one year ago.
The average price has risen $1.005 since the start of the year, mainly because of a run of 59 increases in 60 days totaling 57.9 cents that ended March 21.
The Orange County average price rose for the 10th time in 11 days, increasing six-tenths of a cent to $4.19, its highest amount since Oct. 15, 2019. It has risen 5.1 cents over the past 11 days, including three-tenths of a cent Thursday.
The Orange County average price is 3.1 cents more than one week ago, 12.4 cents higher than one month ago and $1.259 greater than one year ago. It has risen 98.2 cents since the start of the year, mainly because of a run of 72 increases in 73 days totaling 68.1 cents that ended March 20.
The large price increases from one year ago are the result of significant decreases during the early stage of the coronavirus pandemic, when driving and demand dropped substantially because of stay-at-home orders intended to reduce the spread of the virus.
While increased demand stemming from the ending of coronavirus pandemic restrictions is “the primary factor driving up gas prices to their highest amount at this time of year since 2012,” when California gas prices reached record highs that still stand, “there are also other factors at work, because current demand has not yet returned fully to pre-pandemic levels,” said Marie Montgomery, a public relations specialist with the Automobile Club of Southern California.
The closure of the Marathon Refinery in Martinez last year, the planned transition of the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo near San Francisco to a renewable fuels plant and the possibility of other refineries following suit “means California’s already-tight gasoline supply has tightened and will probably tighten in the future even more,” Montgomery told City News Service.
Inflation may also be part of the reason for rising pump prices, “although it is hard to tell how much it contributes and whether it is just a temporary problem,” Montgomery said.