Gas prices skyrocket: California gasoline costs reach an all-time high

EXTREME PRICES: Gas costs over $6 at local Mobil gas station (Carly Altman)

Carly Altman | Writer

September 19, 2023

Over the past few weeks, Southern California residents have begun to notice gasoline prices drastically increasing. In San Clemente and surrounding cities, average prices of regular gasoline currently range from $5.60 to $6.40 a gallon. Moving north to Los Angeles, prices range from $5.50 to well over $7. South towards San Diego, prices continue to climb over $6 per gallon. By far, California has the highest gas prices in the country, and people are beginning to wonder when, if ever, we will see these prices return to a reasonable level.

Over the past 20 years, gas prices have, for the most part, been steadily increasing in California. Although hitting lows in 2009, 2015, and 2016, as well as peaks in 2008 and 2022, the prices show a clear rising trend. However, the current gas prices are rising at an unprecedented rate. In Orange County, the average prices have risen 51 times in the past 57 days, increasing over a dollar in the past 2 months. It is extremely uncommon to see gas prices rise this quickly, as they usually change no more than 30 cents a month. This is the first time California has seen gas prices rise over $6 since the peak in October of 2022. Junior Isabella Noble explained that she doesn’t “even want to get [her] license because of the gas price.” The prices are rising overnight, soaring to unbelievable, never-seen-before costs.

FILLING UP: A tank of gasoline costs more than ever before. (Carly Altman)

The inflation of gas prices is heavily attributed to a major increase in oil costs. Crude oil currently rests at a price of around $90 a barrel and is on track to reach $100 a barrel in the near future.

As the price of oil rises, the price of gasoline also tends to increase. This is likely a result of the oil production cuts in Russia and Saudi Arabia, which have created a major market deficit that will likely last throughout the rest of the year. The oil supply shortfall creates an increase in oil prices, hence impacting the cost of gasoline. 

As gas prices continue to increase, many California residents are now forced to consider how they can limit their spending on gasoline. “The price of gas right now is absolutely unbearable,” said junior Jenna Gellatly. Between other expenses and costs, gasoline price inflation can majorly impact many people’s financial situations. Researching local prices, reducing speed to increase fuel economy, and limiting unnecessary drives are all effective ways to limit your spending. Although prices typically fall as autumn begins, the oil supply restrictions may prevent the surge from settling. 

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