Gas Prices Near $3 in California

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The average price for a gallon of gasoline has reached $2.97 in San Francisco. Several other large cities in the state have prices nearly as high. If oil prices continue their upward trend, $3 gas will be back for the first time in over a year.

Currently, the average price for a gallon of gas is $2.22 nationwide, up from $2.05 a month ago. However, the price is well below $2 in a number of cities, mostly in oil-rich or refinery-rich Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. The total count of these major cities with the price below this level is 19. The lowest among them in Kansas City, Mo., where the price is only $1.91, according to GasBuddy.

The cities with gas prices close to $3 in California are spread well up and down the Pacific Coast and also well inland. The price in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles is $2.86. In Bakersfield it is $2.83.

California has several disadvantages that press prices higher. The average price in the largest state by population is $2.81. California sits relatively far from large refineries, which means the cost of transporting gas there is high.

Another disadvantage for California drivers is the level of the state’s gas taxes and levies, which stand at $0.5883 per gallon, against a national average of $0.4804. The state with the lowest taxes is Alaska at $0.3065, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

The price of oil will always be the largest component of gas prices. Crude currently trades for $45 a barrel, against a 52-week low of just above $30, an increase of 50% in a relatively brief period. As hope rises for an agreement among large oil-exporting countries continues to hold production at current levels, gas prices in parts of California will be $3 soon.