LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Prices continued to soar Monday at gas stations across Southern California.
After nearly 50 consecutive days of gas prices dropping, a 13-cent increase occurred overnight.READ MORE: Associate Pastor Shot To Death At Compton Intersection
In downtown L.A., a Chevron gas station is charging $5.49 per gallon for regular gas this morning.
The sudden rise in gas prices began on Wednesday.
In just one week, residents have seen prices rise over 50 cents.
Analysts say there has been a shortage of oil and other components used in refining California’s unique blend of less polluting gasoline. Those who buy and sell in the market became alarmed, which is what reportedly caused panic.
Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better.
“I think that you see these high prices for the next five days, and much higher than the rest of the country for the next five weeks,” said Kloza.
On average, gas stations are charging $4.05 per gallon in Los Angeles County, $4.02 per gallon in Orange County, $3.92 per gallon in the Inland Empire and $4.01 per gallon in Ventura County.READ MORE: Vigil Held To Honor Life Of Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins Killed In Movie Set Shooting
The explosion of prices has prompted consumer groups to demand Governor Jerry Brown step in to temper the rise.
GasBuddy.com is circulating an online petition asking Gov. Brown to activate temporary emergency regulations that would address the crisis quickly.
And while California gas has always been higher priced than the rest of the country, the website’s petroleum analyst Allison Mac says the differences now are startling.
“My colleague in Atlanta is actually covering stories about prices dropping … so the stories are very, very different,” she said. “We started a petition to ask Gov. Brown to basically temporarily lift these regulations so we can more easily get more supply for the state and for the people here.”
Consumer Watchdog is also supporting a call by some environmental groups for a statewide ballot proposition that would give the state more oversight powers on gas inventories and the status of refineries, but would not impose more taxes on the oil companies.
The group’s president, Jamie Court, charges the oil companies are manipulating the gas market in California by keeping inventories low, driving prices artificially high.
“Californians are getting gauged because the oil refineries have chosen to keep us running on very low inventories. The oil refineries are taking advantage of the situation,” Court said.
“This is more about making sure that refiners cannot simply turn off their refineries and make more money. They’d have to get permission to close their refinery.”
Not surprisingly, the oil companies disagree. They say California gas prices have been volatile for years due to the required unique fuel blends, relative isolation from other markets, high taxes and the toughest environmental rules and regulations.MORE NEWS: 'Supercharge' Storm Expected To Bring Heavy Rainfall To Southland
The Western States Petroleum Association released the following statement to CBS2/KCAL9: “The Cosumer Watchdog group has made numerous unfounded and inaccurate allegations about the fuel markets this year. The oil industry on the West Coast has been investigated dozens of times and all of those investigations concluded the dynamics of supply and demand are the principal reasons for changes in gasoline prices.”