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Gas Prices Rise Another 19.2 Cents Overnight

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Gas prices rose another 19.2 cents overnight in what’s believed to be the largest price increase within a 24-hour period on Friday.

The average cost for a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline is now $4.53 in the greater Los Angeles area, as prices increased nearly as much during the same period on Thursday.

CBS2’s Amber Lee reported gas was as high as $5.79 a gallon in Calabasas on Friday morning.

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Marie Montgomery of the Automobile Club of Southern California told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the jump is something the Auto Club has never seen before.

“When you’ve had a 19-cent increase in one day, that’s not a sign that it’s gonna slow down anytime soon, unfortunately,” said Montgomery. “We’ve never seen a 19-cent increase in one day…this is pretty unprecedented territory.”

The record spike has left several independent stations around the Southland — and one major wholesaler — with empty gas pumps.

One Costco station in Simi Valley reportedly ran out of regular unleaded Thursday and was forced to sell its premium gas at the regular price, while Costco stations in Culver City, Azusa, Alhambra, Northridge, Fontana shut down their gas pumps altogether.

Smaller stations like the Low-P in Calabasas cut off sales of unleaded fuel on Oct. 2 before running out of its higher-octane products on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.

The wholesale price stations pay for gasoline has risen by as much as 73 cents in some markets over the last week.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports State Senator Juan Vargas of Chula Vista has strongly urged Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a waiver that would allow the immediate use and production of winter-grade gas throughout the state.

Vargas said despite sharp jump in prices, environmental communities pose the biggest obstacle to getting any waiver approved.

“There is push-back by some of the environmental communities, saying, ‘You shouldn’t do this, it’ll cause a lot of problems’,” said Vargas. “Well, the truth of the matter is it won’t cause that many problems.”

Bob Van der Valk, an independent petroleum industry analyst in Montana, said the shortage is likely due to a seasonal transition.

“Right now, gas stations are trying to wean out what they have of the summer blend,” said Van der Valk. “There is absolutely none available.”

Refineries are now making what analysts call the “winter blend,” which burns cleaner at cooler temperatures. California “summer blend” fuel requirements remain in effect through the end of October.

Van der Valk also pointed to the refinery fire in Richmond in September and a power failure at the Exxon refinery in Torrance that have adversely affected the supply of crude oil.

And while the power problem at a Torrance refinery has been fixed, Chris Faulkner, President and CEO of Breitling Oil and Gas said he expects prices to rise 75 cents – and possibly as high as $6 per gallon at some point.

“They’re saying they need 7-to-10 days to get back up to full capacity, that keeps 150,000 barrels of refinery capacity offline,” Faulkner said.

On Thursday, Valero announced it will suspend its sales in the Southern California wholesale market in order to ensure it can fulfill its contracts in the region.

Costco has announced that several of their locations will not sell gas until the concerns over supply have subsided. For a list of locations not selling gas, click here.

»RELATED STORY: Tips, Smartphone Apps Can Help Drivers Save Their Gas Money

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