Gas prices jump 19 cents in LA County overnight


In Los Angeles County, the cost of a gallon of gas jumped 19 cents overnight. The average price is now $4.54 a gallon -- on Thursday, it was $4.35.

Similar jumps were seen throughout the Southern California area. In Orange County, the average is now $4.53, up 20 cents, while in the Inland Empire, it's now $4.48. Ventura County residents are paying $4.54 on average for a gallon of regular unleaded.

At the Costco in Burbank, drivers lined up to fill up their tanks. It's one of the few Costco gas stations that still has gas to sell. Fourteen Costco stores have stopped sales because of supply concerns.

Drivers aren't the only ones feeling the pinch. Independent dealers usually pay more for their gas because they're not part of a larger chain. Jirig Nersesyan, who owns Dyno Gas in Long Beach, said a distributor tried to sell him gas at $5.04 a gallon for wholesale.

"We're closed. We have no other choice," he said.

People travelling in the Inland Empire cringed at the pump Friday. Many had to revamp their weekend plans after seeing the latest jump.

"I was going all the way out to Diamond Valley, but Diamond Valley is 75 miles one way and this is 50," said Ted Reed of Chino Hills, who stopped in Silverwood Lake. "So I have to conserve wherever I can."

Refinery outages and pipeline problems are being blamed for the soaring prices and low inventory, and they are unique to California. There was a power failure at Exxon Mobil's Torrance refinery, a Chevron oil pipeline was shut down last month, and a Richmond plant is operating at reduced capacity after a fire in August.

California produces just as much gasoline as it needs -- just over 1 billion gallons a month. So when multiple hiccups in production occur, that's when gas prices go up. the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, which represents independent station operators, filed for a waiver with state regulators asking that they be able to sell winter blend fuel now. However, there is no timeline to make a decision on the waiver; state regulators have had the request for three days.

Meantime, experts say the new supply from the Torrance plant, which is back on line, won't be felt until next week.

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