California pump prices poised to break record

Thu Oct 4, 2012 3:58pm EDT

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By Nichola Groom
    LOS ANGELES, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Pump prices in California
have soared this week and are poised to break a record set in
the summer of 2008 due to low inventories and disruptions at key
Golden State refineries.
    The state average for a gallon of regular gasoline jumped to
$4.315 on Thursday, 18.2 cents higher than last week and 49
cents higher than a year ago, according to AAA data.
    In recent weeks, California refineries have dropped
production in anticipation of switching over to a "winter blend"
of gasoline next month. 
    At the same time, a power outage at Exxon Mobil Corp's
 Torrance, California refinery on Monday and a shutdown
of the crude distillation unit at Chevron Corp's 
Richmond, California refinery contributed to the tight supplies.
    Chevron also said a pipeline that carries 85,000 barrels per
day of crude oil from the state's Central Valley to refineries
in the San Francisco Bay area has been closed since
mid-September due to the presence of elevated organic chloride
levels in the crude stream.
    "It's a series of unfortunate events," said Tom Kloza, chief
oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service, which compiles
the price data for AAA. "This is not something that is going to
last for months. This is something that is going to last for
days or weeks."
    Still, Kloza said it was likely that the record California
average gasoline price of $4.61 a gallon, set in June of 2008,
would be broken.
    "We are looking at the highest California prices ever," he
said in an interview.
    At a Chevron station in the Brentwood section of Los
Angeles, the price for regular gasoline went up 20 cents a
gallon overnight.
    "My car is a gas guzzler, it's sucking me dry," realtor
Marty Halfon said as he filled up his 1992 Mercedes. "I'm in
real estate, I live in my car. I'm held hostage. LA doesn't have
public transportation and the problem is you have to drive
everywhere you go. So what do you do? Stay home?"
    Prices in the Los Angeles spot market for October-delivery
gasoline reached a record $1.75 a gallon on Thursday over NYMEX
RBOB gasoline.
    Valero Energy Corp on Thursday said it was
temporarily withdrawing from the Los Angeles spot refined
products market to assure supplies to its branded and unbranded
retail stations the company supplies.
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