Never mind jacked-up prices - a few station owners are beginning to shut down pumps because they can't get supply or because wholesale prices are so high that any markup would be prohibitive. This has nothing to do with oil prices, which actually have been trending downward. Rather, it's the result of major refinery problems up and down the state - most recently at Exxon Mobil's Torrance refinery (operations are expected to be limited for several days). As we noted this morning, an average gallon of regular in the L.A. area shot up overnight by nearly a dime, to $4.347, according to the Auto Club. The experts say this is a short-term problem and that prices will begin falling once refinery production gets back to near-normal levels. That could run well into next week. From Bloomberg:
Low-P, a gasoline station in Calabasas, California, 30 miles west of Los Angeles, stopped selling unleaded gasoline Oct. 2 and ran out of high-octane and medium-octane fuel yesterday, John Ravi, the station's owner, said by phone yesterday. Ravi said he posted an "Out of Gasoline" sign on each pump and took down the prices outside his shop. "I can get gas, but it's going to cost me $4.90 a gallon, and I can't sell it here for $5," Ravi said. "If you come here right now, I've got some diesel left. That's all. My market is open, but no gas."
The California Independent Oil Marketers Association, a Sacramento-based group that represents wholesale and retail fuel marketers, asked the state yesterday to expedite a waiver that would allow refiners to produce and sell winter-grade fuel, Jay McKeeman, a spokesman for the association, said by telephone yesterday. "Everybody is concerned about what might happen," he said. "The real question is: How long is this going to last and what can the state do?" California's summer-blend fuel requirements are in effect in Southern California until Oct. 31. The Reid Vapor Pressure, or RVP, limits are lifted in other areas of the state as early as Sept. 30.