LOS ANGELES (CBS) — If you’re tempted to shop around for the lowest pump prices at independent gas stations in your neighborhood, the savings may not be worth the trouble.

As the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline rose in Los Angeles County for the 25th consecutive day on Friday to $4.372, more drivers are hoping to save a few dimes per gallon by patronizing independent gas stations.

Typically, such stations offer significantly lower prices than their bigger-name competitors, but that advantage has largely vanished as demand for wholesale “surplus” gas has skyrocketed.

While unbranded stations are usually the biggest buyers of surplus gas, the recent jump in prices has pushed more stations to consume much of the surplus supply.

“Unbranded gasoline is kind of what’s left after the branded stations are able to market their product, so technically it’s a leftover product, and it gets priced that way,” said Jim McKeeman of California Independent Oil Marketers.

One independent station said its gasoline cost has jumped 70 cents in the last month, while another said it has begun to rely solely on profits from its convenience store to pay the bills.


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