For immediate release: September 13, 2000
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989

California Energy Commission Update:
California Gasoline & Diesel Supplies

Sacramento -- The cost of regular gasoline in California jumped six cents last week, setting a new record high. When adjusted for inflation, however, today's prices were still lower than those of 20 years ago; 1980's average price of $1.35 would equal more than $2.30 in today's dollars.

For the week ending September 11, 2000, the retail price of regular gasoline in California averaged $1.85 a gallon. The nationwide average for the same week was $1.56 a gallon.

California's higher prices for gasoline and diesel this summer have been fueled by three conditions: high demand, tight supplies and record-breaking crude oil prices.

Demand for gasoline should decrease now that vacations end and children return to school. Labor Day traditionally signals the end of the summer driving season.

Gasoline supplies remain tight. Production for the week ending September 8, 2000, was nearly 966,000 barrels a day, slightly more than the week before, but nearly five percent below output at this time last year.

On a positive note -- wholesale and spot prices are declining. The average rack, or wholesale, price of California regular reached $1.55 on September 7, 2000, the highest wholesale price of the year. By September 11, however, it had dropped to $1.42.

Surplus supplies of gasoline are sold on the spot market. When spot prices are higher than wholesale prices, it indicates a tight supply of gasoline. On September 6, 2000, spot prices reached $1.66 in Southern California and $1.56 in Northern California, a situation that helped to explain why independent stations were often charging higher prices for fuel than branded stations. By September 11, 2000, however, spot prices in both markets had dropped to $1.37.

Crude oil prices continue at near record levels. Yesterday, Alaskan crude oil -- the source of nearly a third of California's oil supply -- sold for $32.58 a barrel. The record high price was set on September 7, 2000, when Alaskan crude sold for $33.80 a barrel.

Oil prices on the world market are expected to decline after OPEC oil ministers agreed to increase crude oil output by 800,000 barrels a day. Worldwide, 76 million barrels of oil are consumed daily.

Diesel fuel

Diesel prices remained near their record highs across the State. On September 11, 2000, the average retail price of CARB diesel was $2.01 a gallon in Northern California, off five cents from its high on September 5, 2000. Truck stops in both Central and Southern California reported average prices of $1.97 a gallon.

High diesel prices reflect production problems that have been plaguing some refineries. Output of California Reformulated Diesel for the week ending September 8, 2000, however, was approximately 177,700 barrels a day-- an increase of 15.5 percent from the previous week. Diesel inventories remain down nearly 18 percent from the same time last year.

Demand for diesel historically increases in the spring and autumn when farmers begin planting and harvesting, and this year the need for diesel has been especially high.

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If you have questions about gasoline and diesel supplies and prices in California, please call us at (916) 654-4989. More detailed information on California's gasoline and diesel supplies and prices can be found on the California Energy Commission's Web Site at:

For money-saving and gas-saving consumer tips, go to this Web address:

Editor's Note: The California Energy Commission provides this type of information weekly to keep you apprised of the gasoline situation over the summer months.

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