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California gas prices, on average, are back below $4 a gallon

June 6, 2011 |  9:14 am

Retail gasoline costs continue to fall faster in California compared with the rest of the nation. That includes the Midwest, where a spate of refinery and pipeline problems have kept prices well above $4 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

CA_grph The average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline reached $3.992 in California a day after the state's prices fell below $4 a gallon for the first time since mid-March. The AAA uses daily retail receipts from more than 100,000 service stations across the U.S. that are complied by the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.

California prices fell 5.2 cents in the last week and have dropped by an average of 28 cents a gallon in the last month.

Nationally, the average has been stuck in the $3.77-a-gallon range since last week, largely because of problems in the Midwest that have left Illinois and Michigan with the most expensive gasoline in the 48 contiguous states.

In Illinois, the average cost of a gallon of regular was $4.146, more than 10 cents higher than a week ago. The average in Michigan was $4.116 a gallon, a rise of nearly 17 cents over the last seven days.

Patrick Dehaan, senior petroleum analyst for, said that three Illinois refineries that are very important to gasoline production in the Midwest were experiencing technical problems and were not operating. In addition, DeHaan said, two Midwest petroleum pipelines were also shut down for repairs.

"All of that has contributed to a big spike in prices in the Midwest," DeHaan said.

In other energy news, crude oil prices were lower on Monday amid concerns that demand and the global economic recovery were weakening.

Crude oil futures for July delivery fell $1.48 to $98.74 a barrel in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, although prices remain 38% higher than a year ago. In London, Brent crude for July delivery fell $1.47 to $114.37 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

-- Ronald D. White

Image: A graphic shows the average price for regular gasoline over the last 12 months. Credit: AAA