As the new year begins, Californians are experiencing moderate fluctuation in gas prices compared to last month. Many metro areas in Northern California saw a decrease of at least two cents over the past month.
According to the latest report from AAA California, gas prices are expected to be lower than in 2012, barring any unforeseen events.
California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.61, down one cent since last month’s AAA report on Dec. 11, 2012.
For perspective, gas prices today are nine cents cheaper than California’s average price on this date last year. Among all 50 states, California has the fourth highest state average price for regular, unleaded gasoline. Hawaii is the highest at $4.01.
Northern California gas prices are now averaging $3.56, with no change in price from last month. In the San Francisco Bay Area, motorists can expect to pay an average price of $3.68, which is down three cents from last month.
The California state average price of $3.61 is down one cent, which is 31 cents more than the national price of unleaded regular gasoline, $3.30.
“In the first 90 days of 2012, geopolitical tensions with Iran pressured the national price at the pump almost 65 cents higher. The beginning of 2013 does not have a similar situation that is moving the market,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Nevada spokesperson. “In light of this, AAA continues to expect gas prices in 2013 that will average less than the annual record of $3.60 a gallon set last year.”
The national average price today of $3.30 is a drop of three cents from last month’s AAA report of $3.33 a gallon.
While retail prices nationally are currently rising at a slower rate than at the start of 2012, the average is driven higher by crude oil prices that have continued to slowly increase in recent weeks.
At the close of formal trading yesterday on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled at $93.19 per barrel, up 10 cents on the day.
These are the highest settlement prices since September 18, but still well below the 2012 high of $109.77 on Feb. 24.
Only 12 states and Washington, D.C. currently have an average price at the pump that is more expensive than one year ago.
Not coincidentally, these are also the states where gasoline supplies and distribution were most heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy this fall. Tight supplies in the Northeast linger and continue to buoy prices in the region.
The least expensive average price in Northern California can be found in Modesto, where regular is $3.44 per gallon in that metro area.
Of all the metro areas in Northern California where gas prices are tracked by AAA, Eureka has the highest average price at $3.78.
Only six states report prices below the $3.00 mark – Oklahoma, $2.99; Idaho and Minnesota, $2.98; Colorado and Wyoming, $2.92; and Utah, $2.90.
The highest price of gasoline in the nation’s metro areas is in Wailuku, Hawaii, at $4.02 per gallon.
To get the best mileage possible, AAA recommends keeping tires at the proper pressure suggested by the vehicle manufacturer, performing routine maintenance and making sure fluids are clean and belts and hoses are in good repair. The way you drive can also impact fuel economy.
Smooth driving to avoid sudden stops and starts, combining trips and lightening your load also helps conserve gasoline.
AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report is the most comprehensive retail gasoline survey available, with over 100,000 self-serve stations surveyed every day, nationwide. Data is provided in cooperation with OPIS Energy Group and Wright Express LLC.