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State gas prices buck trend, remain flat

POSTED February 11, 2014 11:53 a.m.

The Golden State’s gas prices have remained relatively steady since the beginning of 2014, give or take a few cents, over the past two weeks. State gas prices are now $0.01 cents more than a month ago, according to the AAA Northern California monthly gas survey.

Northern California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.58, that’s $0.02 cents cheaper than last month’s AAA report on Jan. 14. For perspective, gas prices today are $ 0.40 cheaper than California’s average price on this date last year.

 “In a departure from recent years, national gas prices have been largely flat at the start of 2014.  This can be attributed in part to cold temperatures keeping drivers off of roads but also to the absence of the looming production concerns overseas or regional refinery issues that have propelled retail gasoline prices higher out of the gate the last several years,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson.

The national average price is $3.31 per gallon of regular gasoline. This is $0.02 higher than Monday, $0.04 higher than a week ago, the same as last month’s AAA report and $0.28 lower than a year ago. Hawaii’s average price, $4.03, is the only state reporting an average price over $4. The second highest price in the contiguous states is found in California at $3.65. Montana has the lowest average price in the country at $3.03.

In 2011 escalating violence in Egypt and then Libya spurred pump prices higher. In 2012 the catalyst was growing tensions with Iran.  In both of these instances global production concerns linked to geopolitical issues sent crude oil prices and ultimately gas prices higher.  In 2013 the early year gas price increase was not a product of surging crude prices globally but of production issues domestically. Regional refinery issues leading up to the seasonal switchover to summer blend gasoline production raised domestic supply concerns and sent retail prices sharply higher.

Crude oil prices had been relatively stable to begin the year; however prices moved higher to end last week, settling on Friday just short of the $100 per barrel threshold. This trend continued Tuesday and, despite increasing just $0.18 on the day, West Texas Intermediate settled at $100.06 per barrel.  This marks the first time since Oct. 18 that WTI has settled above the $100 threshold.  

The least expensive average price in a Northern California metro area can be found in Marysville where regular unleaded gasoline is $3.41 per gallon. The cheapest gas in Turlock, as of Tuesday, was found at Costco with $3.23 a gallon, followed by ARCO on Lander Avenue with $3.27 a gallon. Of all the metro areas in Northern California, where gas prices are tracked by AAA, Eureka has the highest price at $3.77 per gallon of unleaded regular.

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