Could California see gas prices under $5 this summer? The factors helping lower costs

The Biden administration is releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from a Northeast reserve to lower gas prices this summer.

Leticia Juarez Image
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Could California see gas prices under $5 this summer?
The Biden administration says it's releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from a Northeast reserve established after Superstorm Sandy in a bid to lower prices at the pump this summer, but how will that impact California?

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Drivers in California can't help but be green with envy when it comes to paying for gas outside the state.

"Gas prices are better in other states, like, once you pass Arizona, they're a little bit better but over here, it is twice as bad," said Christian Jimenez of Riverside, who recently filled up a rental RV, which was much cheaper to do in Nevada where he and his partner had returned from a trip.

"It used to cost me $25 to fill up my entire tank before gas inflation," said Jocelyn Melgarejo. "Now it's like $64, so it is just ridiculous, honestly, because we do have Toyotas. We have really resourceful cars, and it still just doesn't do anything for us."

The price of gas has drivers seeking out the best deals they can.

"Depending on what city you live in, it could be cheap or expensive," said Mike Williams of Moreno Valley.

That's why Williams stops by the Arco gas station in Riverside on Blaine and Third streets where they offer 10 cents off a gallon of gas with the purchase of a car wash.

"We try to offer as much as the best value as possible to consumers because gas prices have been ridiculously high," said station owner Manny Singh.

Could gas prices soon be coming down for all Californians?

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced the release of one million barrels of oil from the Northeast reserve aimed at providing relief at the pump.

"The Biden-Harris Administration is laser-focused on lowering prices at the pump for American families, especially as drivers hit the road for summer driving season," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

The one million barrels set to be released amounts to 42 million gallons of gasoline, a relatively small amount, according to Gasbuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan.

"It's much ado about nothing, but from a taxpayers perspective, it makes sense shutting this down," he said.

To put it into perspective, the amount represents about 2.65 hours of total U.S. gasoline demand. DeHaan said the release is more about shutting down a non-vital and never used gasoline reserve. As for the impact on gas prices, he said it's negligible.

Instead, other factors are helping to drive down prices at the pump.

"Refineries are finishing maintenance, the transition to summer gasoline is over ... those two behind us are the reason why gas prices are kind of breathing a sigh of relief," said DeHaan.

Relief that will bring a gallon of gas under $5 in the Golden State.

"The good news is potentially, by first day of June, we could see the L.A. average back below the $5 a gallon mark and barring any unexpected outages, could spend most the summer below that mark," he said.