Gas prices soar upwards

As of May 4, the national average price of regular unleaded gasoline ($2.62) has moved higher for 19 consecutive days for a total of 23 cents per gallon, due to higher crude oil costs and a number of refinery issues.

According to a new Triple A report, the West Coast continues to lead the nation in posting the highest prices for retail gasoline due to regional refinery issues that have caused prices to race higher. California ($3.71) remains the nation’s most expensive market and is joined by three other states with averages above $3 per gallon: Hawaii ($3.19), Nevada ($3.17) and Alaska ($3.09). The California average has gone up 50 cents a gallon over the past three weeks.

In Oakhurst, a gallon of regular unleaded gas is currently lower than the state average at three out of four stations, ranging from $3.49 at Valero, and EZ Mart, to $3.59 at Vons ($3.49 debit card or cash), to $3.99 at Chevron ($3.79 cash or Chevron credit card).

The price at the pump often increases in the spring due to seasonal maintenance, rising demand and the higher costs associated with producing more expensive summer-blend gasoline, which is required in many parts of the country to combat emissions in warmer temperatures. Unexpected refinery issues are also keeping upward pressure on the national average and consumers may see prices rise a bit higher over the next few weeks.

In January the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular in Northern California was $2.58 - a price not seen since 2009. The highest recorded price ever registered in California was October, 2012, at $4.67.

The majority of states (28 and Washington, D.C.) are posting averages above $2.50 per gallon. Rising crude prices and increased seasonal demand are expected to keep upward pressure on the price at the pump in the short-term. South Carolina ($2.33), Missouri ($2.34) and Oklahoma ($2.36) are the nation’s least expensive markets for retail gasoline.

The national average price ice of $2.62 per gallon represents the most expensive average price of the year. Motorists are paying eight cents more per gallon than one week ago and 22 cents more than one month ago to refuel their vehicles. Although the national average is currently moving higher, relatively lower crude prices continue to provide consumers with significant year-over-year-savings and today’s price is $1.06 per gallon less than a year ago.

- Staff Report