The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County rose four-tenths of a cent Friday to $4.68, its highest amount to end a year.
The average price is $1.448 higher than one year ago, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.
The average price at the beginning of the year was $3.234, the lowest amount to start a year since 2018, thanks to a sharp drop at the start of the cornavirus pandemic, caused by weakened demand as many people heeded stay-at-home orders, coupled with the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to Jeffrey Spring, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager.
The average price rose to the record high of $4.716 on Nov. 27 and has since dropped 3.6 cents.
The Orange County average price rose two-tenths of a cent to $4.65 Friday, its highest amount to end a year, and $1.442 higher than one year ago. It was $3.216 at the beginning of the year, also the lowest amount to start a year since 2018, and rose to $4.689 Nov. 26, one-tenth of a cent less than the record. The average price has since dropped 3.9 cents.
The higher gas prices are the result of a sharp increase to oil prices. The price of a barrel of West Texas intermediate crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange has increased 58.65% from one year ago, closing at $76.99 Thursday.
Crude oil costs account for slightly more than half of the pump price, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
“There is still strong demand amid a very disciplined approach to increasing production by OPEC+ countries and shale oil producers in the U.S.,” said Spring, referring to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the Russia-led group of oil producers known as OPEC+.
“Each group got burned by the significant drop in oil prices in March and April 2020, cut back in production and have been very careful in how much they produce now. The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus may blunt gas prices from rising despite recently higher oil prices.”