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Nationwide Gas Prices Up 14 Cents

April 12, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Less than two months ago, consumers were enjoying gasolines prices averaging under $1 a gallon.

But a combination of seasonal demand, OPEC cuts in crude oil production and fires at California refineries has since pushed prices more than 20 cents higher _ with no relief in sight, an industry analyst said Sunday.

In the past three weeks alone, pump prices have jumped 14 cents per gallon. In California over that same period, the average jumped 43.11 cents.

``Prices jumped, leaped, exploded _ your pick,″ said analyst Trilby Lundberg, who runs the Lundberg Survey of 10,000 gas stations nationwide.

The weighted average price for all grades and services on Friday was $1.2281 _ a 14.12 cent hike from the last survey three weeks ago. On Feb. 21, the average price was only 99.8 cents a gallon.

The nation’s cheapest gas was in Atlanta, where self-serve regular unleaded was going for 95.30 cents, Ms. Lundberg said.

Hardest hit were motorists in California, where the average price for regular unleaded was $1.6390. Explosions at two refineries _ including one at a Tosco Avon refinery Feb. 23 that left four workers dead _ have helped send prices soaring in the state.

Motorist Geoff Leonard, of San Francisco, groused about the price hike while filling the tank of his Volvo station wagon at a Chevron station on Sunday. The price tag: $18.68 for 10 1/2 gallons.

``It’s amazing,″ said Leonard, 42. ``It’s the largest increase I’ve seen since the early ’80s.″

Though refinery problems should disappear soon and the supply picture is normalizing, Ms. Lundberg saw no relief in sight.

``The big picture is that even if prices in California and the nation should peak soon, we are unlikely to see those ultra-low 1998 price levels any time soon,″ she said.

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