LOS ANGELES -- Gasoline prices inched downward in California on Wednesday, breaking a four-day string of all-time record highs, reported The Modesto Bee.
AAA put the average price of unleaded regular gasoline Wednesday morning at $4.666 a gallon, down from Tuesday's record of $4.671.
(See Related Content below for previous CSP Daily News coverage.)
National fuel price tracker GasBuddy.com said the statewide trend is for falling prices. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said that the "tiny" price decrease was too slow for his comfort. "I'm really hoping that pace will pick up. It's ridiculous," he told the newspaper. "We're showing about a 1% drop [in gasoline prices] and wholesale prices have been falling at a much higher rate.."
Energy analysts blame the latest surge in prices on a perfect storm of supply disruptions at refineries throughout California. They also predict that at-the-pump prices will further decline as the week goes on, a byproduct of a sharp decrease in wholesale gasoline prices in California.
Experts said the decline of wholesale prices was helped along by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) acting on Governor Jerry Brown's directive on Sunday to allow refineries to switch early to making cheaper winter-grade fuel.
Henry WaxmanMeanwhile, Energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) has sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz requesting an investigation into the causes of the current gasoline price spike in California.
"Over the past week, retail gasoline prices in California have soared by more than 50 cents per gallon to a record price of $4.67 per gallon. There has been no similar surge in gasoline prices nationwide," the letter said.
"The most common explanation for this price increase is that there is a gasoline supply crunch resulting from a series of refinery accidents and temporary shutdowns in California .... In this environment, some market experts are raising concerns about the potential for market manipulation or price gouging. For instance, Severin Borenstein, an energy expert at UC Berkeley, recently said that 'it's not a crazy notion' that California refiners are taking advantage of the tight supply by withholding some of their gasoline in order to further increase prices," it added.
Click here to read the full text of Waxman's letter to the FTC.