For California drivers seeking some good news at the pump, gasoline prices had their smallest gain in five weeks.
Still, the average price for a gallon of regular gas rose 3 cents to $3.76 in the past week — the highest in 68 weeks, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration as of March 22. Prices are up $1.12 since the pandemic low of $2.64 last May — a 42% increase. The last time it was higher? Nov. 18, 2019.
Pump prices statewide have risen for 14 consecutive weeks as the fuel’s key ingredient, crude oil, soared in price. West Texas Intermediate, a U.S. benchmark for crude oil, is up 18% this year to $62 a barrel last week. Perhaps drivers will get some relief soon as crude oil prices dipped to $58 early this week.
Gasoline’s 2021 surge contrasts sharply to prices that tumbled 21% in two months last spring as pandemic “stay at home” restrictions cut travel and fuel demand. Since then, a reopening economy, plus production cuts worldwide, boosted gasoline prices.
Pricier fuel is not only a California trend.
Nationally, a gallon of regular gas cost an average $2.87 last week — up 1 cent in a week and up 85 cents or 60% since last spring’s $1.77 low. That gap between state and U.S. prices is 31% vs. an average 32% in the last five years.
Gas-price trivia: This week compared with …
Five years ago: $2.68 a gallon in California vs. $2.01 nationally — a 34% gap — with $39 a barrel crude oil.
10 years: $3.97 statewide; $3.56 in the U.S.; with 11% gap — with $105 crude oil.
15 years: $2.64 in California; $2.50 nationally; with 5% gap — with $63 crude oil.
20 years: $1.70 statewide; $1.40 in the U.S.; with 21% gap — with $27 crude oil.
25 years: $1.14 both statewide and nationally, with $18 crude oil.
Source: Orange County Register