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SoCal gas prices down, could remain low for weeks

A woman fills her car with gas in Woodbridge, Va., on Tuesday. Supplies of crude oil and refined gasoline have driven prices at the pump down, and they're  expected to go even lower.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
File photo: A woman fills her car with gas in Woodbridge, Va., on Tuesday. The price at the pump in L.A. County has dropped for the 13 days in a row and now averages $2.92, down from $2.93 on Monday. Prices also dropped in Orange County.

Drivers in Los Angeles County have seen the average price of regular self-serve gasoline drop for 13 consecutive days. And more savings could be in store, at least in the near term.

The price at the pump now averages $2.924, down from $2.935 on Monday. Prices also dropped in Orange County by a penny and a half to $2.905.

Oil industry expert Tom Kloza said gas prices for the rest of January are expected to remain on the low side.

“There was a point there in late 2015 where gasoline was very, very tight supply in California, even though crude oil prices were descending. But thanks to some imports, and thanks to some higher production, you guys are pretty balanced for what amounts to the poorest demand month of the year,” Kloza told KPCC.

Prices typically fall in the winter months as demand decreases, but the International Energy Agency said a warm winter and a global surplus in crude oil are increasing the downward pressure, according to the Associated Press.

Angelenos could see decreases for the next few weeks, with leading edge prices dropping at some stations to around $2 a gallon or even less, Kloza said. Still, average prices will continue to carry a premium of about 50 cents compared to the rest of the country.

The current average for the U.S. is $1.88 per gallon. Statewide, Californians are seeing an average price of $2.75, the highest in the nation.

And the dip in prices probably won’t last long. Kloza points out that in February each year, California refineries begin switching to a summer blend that is more difficult — and therefore more expensive — to make.

“It all changes between, let’s say, Valentine’s Day and Cinco de Mayo. That’s when you run into the change in the specification. It’s almost like the gluten-free gasoline you have to use there,” Kloza said.

In addition, the explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance has meant less gasoline production locally.

Still, Kloza said he expects the statewide average may not even reach $3 a gallon when it spikes again in the spring.