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Southern California Gas Prices Continue to Drop

17 May 2000

Southern California Gas Prices Continue to Drop; National Average Price Shows Slight Increase

    LOS ANGELES--May 16, 2000--Southern California gasoline prices have dropped nearly ten cents in one month, according to the monthly Automobile Club of Southern California Fuel Gauge Report. California prices fell by nearly 10 cents while the national average, is relatively unchanged from April. The price reductions are a result of OPEC's March agreement to boost oil production.
    The May average price of regular self-serve unleaded in Southern California is $1.662 compared with $1.757 on April 18. The "lowest" of the high gas prices in Southern California this month can be found in Huntington Beach, La Habra and Van Nuys where the average price for a gallon of self serve unleaded is $1.553, $1.582 and $1.587 respectively. Premium grade gasoline remains higher than $2 per gallon in only two cities -- Bishop and El Centro.
    The May statewide average is $1.684 -- down from $1.783 -- on April 18. The average retail price of regular unleaded gasoline in California peaked in early March at $1.79 -- an all-time high, according to weekly surveys of 38 California stations by the U.S. Department of Energy.
    Travelers to northern California can expect to pay an average of $1.86 in San Francisco, which is 6 cents lower than April. Las Vegas has an average of $1.72 down from $1.80 a month ago. The May national average is $1.49 cents per gallon -- unchanged compared with April, yet three cents higher than one week ago.
    Although fuel prices remain high, the downward movement of prices in April and May prior to the start of the summer driving season is encouraging for motorists and the United States vacation travel industry, said the Auto Club. However, Southern Californians still can expect to pay prices that are an average of 10 cents higher than a year ago.
    Prices have dropped despite two forces that had the potential to increase prices. The first has been the industry's normal seasonal switch to summer grade fuels -- which usually means higher wholesale prices following the final draw down of winter grade inventories.
    The other was a six-day strike just concluded in Norway that prevented oil from being loaded on tankers. Norway is the globe's second largest oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia and the disruption caused crude prices to rise to $28 per barrel, their highest level since March. With the Norwegian strike concluded and the winter/summer inventory switch accomplished, the U.S. gasoline market should be entering a period of price stability.

In Southern California, the averages for regular and premium
grades of gasoline are listed below: 

Imperial County

El Centro                              1.843                 2.363

Inyo County

Bishop                                 1.819                 2.006

Kern County

Bakersfield                            1.653                 1.851
Ridgecrest                             1.643                 1.763

Los Angeles County

Alhambra                               1.587                 1.819
Arcadia                                1.619                 1.826
Burbank                                1.600                 1.796
Culver City                            1.669                 1.824
Glendale                               1.612                 1.797
Glendora                               1.639                 1.739
Inglewood                              1.607                 1.789
Lancaster                              1.598                 1.769
Long Beach                             1.595                 1.815
Los Angeles                            1.633                 1.813
Manhattan Beach                        1.629                 1.837
Montebello                             1.610                 1.819
Santa Monica                           1.690                 1.832
Van Nuys                               1.587                 1.768
Whittier                               1.590                 1.779
Woodland Hills                         1.623                 1.807

Orange County

Anaheim                                1.620                 1.802
Fullerton                              1.610                 1.786
Huntington Bch                         1.553                 1.779
La Habra                               1.582                 1.769
Laguna Beach                           1.678                 1.827
Newport Beach                          1.679                 1.979
San Clemente                           1.764                 1.999
Tustin                                 1.629                 1.736

Riverside County

Blythe                                 1.789                 1.969
Hemet                                  1.711                 1.922
Palm Springs                           1.762                 1.925
Riverside                              1.604                 1.790

San Bernardino County

Redlands                               1.646                 1.809
San Bernardino                         1.647                 1.719
Victorville                            1.628                 1.764

San Diego County

Chula Vista                            1.665                 1.850
Del Mar                                1.719                 1.919
Escondido                              1.661                 1.848
Oceanside                              1.672                 1.922
San Diego                              1.689                 1.853

San Luis Obispo County

San Luis Obispo                        1.701                 1.899

Santa Barbara County

Lompoc                                 1.759                 1.961
Santa Barbara                          1.781                 1.984
Santa Maria                            1.677                 1.839

Tulare County

Porterville                            1.698                 1.889
Visalia                                1.674                 1.854

Ventura County

Ventura                                1.680                 1.900

So. Calif. Avg.                        1.662                 1.85

    Although prices have fallen from record highs, the Auto Club continues to urge motorists to practice common-sense fuel conservation techniques and to shop aggressively for the lowest price.
    Properly maintaining your vehicle is a critical component in reducing gas usage, according to Steve Mazor, principal automotive engineer. Underinflated tires, for example, can cut fuel economy by up to 2% per pound of pressure below the recommended level. Worn spark plugs and dirty air filters also increase fuel consumption. The Club also offers the following gas saving tips:

    -- Knowing the correct starting procedure for your car. Racing an
    engine to warm it up wastes fuel.

    -- Maintaining steady speeds. A car uses extra fuel when it

    -- Minimizing the need to brake by anticipating traffic
    conditions. Be alert for slow-downs and red lights.

    -- Using the air conditioner only when necessary. Air conditioning
    reduces fuel economy by about 5%.

    The Auto Club's Fuel Gauge Report is based on data gathered from monitoring fuel transactions at 2,800 Southern California gas stations. Oil Price Information Service -- the nation's most comprehensive source of petroleum pricing information, provides the data.