After rocketing up an average of about 55 cents in the past month — more at some stations — gas prices in Sonoma County appear to have leveled off and may even have peaked.
Analysts say the price surge was driven by the annual switch by refineries from making winter gas to more expensive-to-produce-but-cleaner summer gas and by some refineries reducing production to do maintenance.
AAA reported Wednesday that the average price for regular gas in Santa Rosa was $4.169, roughly the same it has been for the last couple of days. But that’s up about 10 cents from a week ago and 55.6 cents from a month ago. A year ago, it was $4.28. The record is $4.65 last Oct. 9.
For the state, the average price soared 53.5 cents a gallon over the past four weeks, making that the fifth biggest jump since 1996, says Rob Schlichting, a spokesman for the state Energy Commission. The biggest increase by amount was 63.6 cents for the four weeks that ended June 16, 2008.
He says that with the price increase having slowed dramatically, it appears prices have stabilized for drivers.
Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with gasbuddy.com, says Southern California prices already have peaked and Northern California prices “are close to peaking if not already.” At most, he says, prices might rise inch up a bit this week before slowly dropping next week.
He says the latest stats show gas production by the state’s refineries is down 9 percent from last year while inventories are up 22 percent. He says that’s somewhat puzzling, figuring that a higher supply would drive down prices, but he theorized that market traders are paying attention to the production numbers, knowing that any extra supply could dry up quickly in a crisis.
California’s average price, according to AAA, is $4.238 compared to the nation’s low of $3.272 in Wyoming and high of $4.365 in Hawaii.
Gasbuddy.com reported that the lowest price in the state as reported by one of its readers was $3.79 at 4B Gas in Tulare, while the highest was $5.19 at a Chevron station in L.A.
In Santa Rosa, gasbuddy.com showed Wednesday afternoon that the cheapest reported was $3.99 at Roseland Gas Mart on Sebastopol Road.
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