Gasoline prices are set to vault higher along the West Coast after weeks of decline. Massive decline. Last week, even as the national average rose, prices in the West Coast region fell. The party is about to be over, folks.
After reports surfaced of refining issues in California, spot prices (today's wholesale cost) has risen. Let's be clear- there are futures prices (generally for oil delivered a month or so from now), and there are spot prices (for gasoline, what stations pay refiners today for a massive purchase of gasoline). Spot prices have accelerated along the West Coast in the last two days, much quicker than other areas.
But don't feel alone, West Coast motorists- for motorists in Michigan are seeing a double digit single day increase, and motorists in Ohio and Indiana had two separate days of such last week. And while I don't expect prices in the West to increase double digits overnight, you'll likely see slow increases that add up over the next two weeks.
Surprised at the coincidence? The timing, again, is suspect. Tesoro has been mum on details of a refinery blip at its Wilmington, CA plant, but sources say it's unplanned maintenance- the kind of even that spooks the market and leads to limited panic in spot prices. Motorists may suspect that lower prices and lower margins may be the culprit to such a well-timed event via Tesoro, but there is little evidence (has there ever been more than little?) to draw us to that conclusion.
With things are they are, prices along the Pacific may start to rise a bit more quickly than the national average, but hey- at least California's state average is 35c/gal under $4. It could be worse.