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Area Gas Stations Running Out of Fuel, Prices Climbing

Even mass-retailer Costco shuts down the pumps.

In a nearby Costco store in San Dimas, cars piled into the store's gas station Thursday evening. Some cars were lined all the way out into the street, while elsewhere in Los Angeles County, independent stations are turning away customers.

A combination of West Coast refinery failures and a shortage of summer-formulated fuel have put the squeeze on retailers just as the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular in Los Angeles County recorded its largest daily increase since at least 2008.

Rising 8.8 cents to $4.347 Thursday, the price is the highest since May 22.

Some independent stations in Calabasas ran out of unleaded fuel on Oct. 2, according to Bloomberg. And the wholesale price stations pay has risen by as much as 73 cents in some markets over the last week.

Bob van der Valk, an independent petroleum industry analyst, told KNX radio, “Right now, gas stations are trying to wean out what they have of the 'summer blend.' There is absolutely none available.”

Refineries have already switched over to “winter blend,” which burns cleaner at cooler temperatures, but can't be sold in California because of clean-air rules until after Halloween. 

Van der Valk said a refinery fire in Richmond in September and a power failure at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance has squeezed the availability of fuel.

“Costco just ran out of gasoline even though they’re being supplied by Chevron,” he said. “Apparently, they have a limit on that, and then they’ll buy on the open market at whatever price they can get.”

Greg Bond, assistant warehouse manager at the Simi Valley Costco, told the Daily News that the shortage hit on Wednesday.

"We're down 100 percent from yesterday. There are definitely some supply issues out there. Unfortunately I don't know how long it will take to fix at this point," he said.

With the shortage, prices are on the rise. A West Covina station was already charging $5.31 a gallon for regular gas on Thursday, GasBuddy.com reported.

The average price of self-serve regular gasdoline has increased by more than 1 cent on each of the past six days and is 20.7 cents more than a week ago, 17.4 cents higher than a month ago and 51.4 cents greater than at this time last year, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.

"California is ground zero for one of the most dramatic price spikes in a while," Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, told KTLA5.

-- City News Service contributed to this report.

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arc0300 October 05, 2012 at 08:33 PM
the costco in san dimas off of lone hill is jammed packed. never seen it that pack. it was cheap though. $4.29. but with at least 20 cars in front of me in all the lines, that would've made me have to wait at least an hour before getting my chance to get gas. the chevron across the street is 4.69.
Terry October 05, 2012 at 10:45 PM
For a small or midsize car, it's usually takes about 13 gallons to fill up. That's only about a $5 difference per fill-up between the SD Costco and that nearby Chevron. I would spend the extra $5 and not waste a hour (or even 30 minutes) of my life waiting at a gas station.
Kenfuzed October 06, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Welcome to California! C.A.R.B. (Cal Air Resource Board) has a death grip on this state so we cannot even have gas from refineries brought in from other states. You would think there was a huge airtight wall around California that makes our air any different from a neighboring state. BTW, all those ads that are appearing on this page lately against Prop 32, paid for by labor unions but made to look like actual news items. Political ads should be left out of news reporting regardless of who is paying for it.
freeamerica October 07, 2012 at 01:16 PM
That explains why this liberal Obama spent 90 billion on green house energy to change the way we live in America,but the problem is you need to slowly come of fossil fuels, his is saying let me make it so people can't afford it anymore then America will fall to my mercy and have no choice but to go green. Just like his Obama care shoving in down our throat's!
Vince October 10, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Right on. I just don't get these long lines at Costco. You wait an hour to save what, $10 bucks???? I'm sorry, but my time is worth more than that.

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