Lump of Coal for Holiday Drivers: Gas Prices Zoom Upward Before Christmas, Says Auto Club

Spurred by refinery output problems, gas prices jumped by more than a penny a day in most areas of Southern California over the last week in an unusual pre-Christmas spike at the pump, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $2.597, which is 9.7 cents higher than last week, 11 cents higher than last month, and 34 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the price is $2.659, 9.2 cents above last week's price, 12 cents above last month, and 36 cents above last year. On the Central Coast, the average price is $2.808, up 6.7 cents from last week, six cents above last month, and 39 cents higher than last year. In the Inland Empire, the average price is $2.613, 9.3 cents above last week, 12 cents higher than last month, and 33 cents higher than last year.

"For at least the past six years, gas prices have typically been on the decline at this time of year, partly because demand is lower," said Auto Club spokeswoman Carol Thorp. "But lower production levels at California refineries in the past month pushed wholesale gas prices sharply upward around Thanksgiving, and now that increase has been passed on to consumers."

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline as of
12:01 a.m., Dec. 22:

Area             Regular    One-week change      Record Price

Los Angeles -     $2.597      +9.7 cents       $3.402 (5/13/2006)
 Long Beach

Orange County     $2.551      +9.3 cents       $3.371 (5/17/2006)

San Diego         $2.659      +9.2 cents       $3.438 (5/15/2006)

Santa Barbara -   $2.808      +6.7  cents      $3.491 (5/16/2006)
 Santa Maria -

Riverside -       $2.613      +9.3 cents       $3.445 (5/15/2006)
 San Bernardino

Bakersfield       $2.628      +5.6 cents       $3.450 (5/16/2006)

Las Vegas, NV     $2.525      +4.3 cents       $3.176 (5/17/2006)

Marie Montgomery/Jeffrey Spring
(714) 885-2333

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