Record-setting gas prices in Southern California fall slightly, but for how long?

Gas prices in Southern California dipped slightly to record highs for the first time in weeks on Thursday, but concerns over OPEC+’s decision to curb oil production make it unclear how long any relief at the pump will last.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline across California fell half a cent overnight to $6.42, according to the American Automobile Assn. That price is almost $3 more than the national average, with refinery outages in California being blamed for some supply problems — the cost of driving is even higher than the premium the state’s motorists typically pay for fuel.

In Los Angeles, the average price for regular bottles on Thursday was $6,491 a gallon, up from $6,494 the previous day, according to AAA. San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties — all of which set new records this week — also saw modest declines on Thursday, as did most counties statewide.

Oil and gas analysts said wholesale prices for California-grade gasoline appear to have peaked this week after the shutdown of at least five refineries across the state caused shortages. But they said it often takes much longer for prices at the pump to reflect these market slumps.

But the announcement by OPEC+, a coalition of two dozen oil-producing countries, on Wednesday to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day has the potential to sway California prices, officials said. It’s unclear when or by how much prices could rise, but most experts don’t expect a dramatic jump in costs in the Golden State.

Prices were still rising Thursday in some areas of California, including San Bernardino County, which set a new record of $6,375 a gallon on Thursday, up half a cent from Wednesday.

Fuel costs started rising in September after months of declines, but unlike the summer’s nationwide hikes in gas prices, this latest spike has hit California and the West Coast particularly hard.

The high prices recently prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to ask lawmakers to introduce an unexpected tax on “rip-off” oil companies and state air regulators to allow refiners to start producing cheaper winter gasoline earlier than usual boost supply and lower prices.

Despite Newsom’s message, any proposed legislation would not be introduced until January, when the Legislature resumes session after a late-calendar hiatus that began in late August. Record-setting gas prices in Southern California fall slightly, but for how long?

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