LOS ANGELES — Gasoline prices in California continued surging Friday, adding another 17 cents per gallon on average, and the increases are expected to continue for at least several more days, ensuring long lines.
A week of soaring costs has led some stations to close and others to charge record prices — in some places $5 or more — as California leapfrogged Hawaii as the state with the most expensive fuel. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded across California was nearly $4.49 on Friday, 32 cents more than a week ago and the highest statewide average in the nation, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge report.
The national average is about $3.79 a gallon, the highest ever for this time of year. However, gas prices in many other states have started decreasing, which is typical for October.
The average price for regular gasoline in California hit an all-time high of $4.61 per gallon in June 2008. That could be eclipsed this weekend.
Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, said he expects the increase in prices to peak around $4.85 a gallon over the next several days and then level off.
A web of refinery and transmission problems is to blame, analysts said. The situation is compounded by a pollution law that requires a special blend of cleaner-burning gasoline from April to October, said Denton Cinquegrana, executive editor of the Oil Price Information Service, which helps AAA compile its price survey.
Among the recent disruptions, an Aug. 6 fire at a Chevron Corp. refinery in Richmond left one of the region's largest refineries producing at a reduced capacity, and a Chevron pipeline that moves crude oil to Northern California also was shut down.
There was some good news.
Exxon Mobil Corp. said a refinery in Torrance returned to normal operations Friday after a power failure Monday disrupted production for most of the week.