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October 8, 2012

California gas prices hit record high

NORMAN — Relief could be on the way

LOS ANGELES — California motorists faced another day of record-breaking gasoline prices Sunday, though relief appeared to be on the way.

In its latest update early Sunday, AAA reported that the statewide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $4.655. Saturday’s average of $4.6140 was the highest since June 19, 2008, when it was $4.6096.

The four-penny-per-gallon jump Sunday was less than Saturday’s increase, which was 12 cents.

Sunday’s price, like Saturday’s, was the highest in the nation, with the Golden State overtaking Hawaii as the state with the most expensive fuel due to a temporary reduction in supply.

Gov. Jerry Brown ordered state smog regulators Sunday to allow winter-blend gasoline to be sold in California earlier than usual to help drive prices down. Winter-blend gas typically isn’t sold until after October 31. Few refineries outside the state are currently making summer-blend gas, putting the pressure on already-taxed California manufacturers.

In some locations, fuming motorists paid $5 or more per gallon while station owners had to shut down pumps in others.

A station in Long Beach had California’s priciest gas at $6.65 for a gallon of regular, according to GasBuddy.com. Meanwhile customers at an outlet in San Pablo paid just $3.49, the lowest price in the state.

The average for a gallon of regular was $4.69 in Los Angeles, $4.71 in San Diego and San Francisco, $4.55 in Sacramento and $4.90 in Santa Barbara, according to GasBuddy.com.

The dramatic surge came after a power outage Monday at a Southern California refinery that reduced supply in an already fragile and volatile market, analysts said. The refinery came back online Friday and prices were expected to stabilize in the coming days.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, predicted the average price could peak as high as $4.85 before coming back down.

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