The steady, monthlong climb in gasoline prices passed a milestone in California this week as Los Angeles became the first major metro area in the continental United States to see its average retail gasoline price hit $4 a gallon in 2014.
Were not surprised that California is the first to break the $4 gasoline threshold, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for national gas price tracker GasBuddy.com. Were more surprised with the timing. West Coast refineries always get an early start on the transition process from winter blend to summer blend, and last year Los Angeles was at $4 per gallon in the last week of January.
The average retail price of gas in the Sacramento area on Thursday was $3.76 a gallon, up from $3.44 a month ago, according to GasBuddy, which surveys 720 gas outlets in the Sacramento area daily.
Steady supplies of gas, relatively low crude oil prices and limited car travel due to severe winter weather in some parts of the nation combined to keep gas prices unusually low in the first six weeks of this year. However, that trend is reversing now.
DeHaan and other energy analysts are expecting gas prices to continue climb perhaps through the Memorial Day weekend in May as refineries catch up with spring-season maintenance and the spring-summer car travel season gains steam. Likewise, crude oil has been around $100 a barrel in recent weeks.
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