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California gas prices expected to drop

4:37 PM, Oct 10, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - You can credit Jay McKeeman, who represents the state's Independent Oil Marketers Association, for stopping gas prices from going any higher.

McKeeman convinced the Gov. Jerry Brown and regulators to let refiners produce winter blend fuels earlier than normal, but it's going to take a few more days to get that cheaper fuel to consumers and bring prices down further.

"Another problem in terms of prices is that fuel merchants have purchased the more expensive gasoline, so they have to sell that," McKeeman said.

Just as prices appear to be on the verge of decreasing, there's worry about that Chevron refinery in Richmond that's had to cut production since early August because of a massive fire. The company said it'll be out for the rest of the year.

Some industry experts worry that's a sign supply will remain tight and keep prices high, but the California Energy Commission is optimistic.

"The good news is the market has already adopted to that refinery not producing at normal levels, and gasoline demand between now and December will continue to decline," California Energy Commission spokesperson Gordon Schremp said.

McKeeman warns, though, these high prices we've seen lately may be the new norm in the coming months.

New global warming regulations and a low carbon fuel mandate taking effect may make drive prices back up.

 "We're asking the Governor to take a time out on these regulations and to make sure we've studied them for all the potential price implications and unintended consequences," McKeeman said.

"Wild Bill" Hill is watching the market fluctuations in stride; he's been a gas miser for a long time.

His 1959 MesserSchmitt holds only 3 gallons, but it costs him just $13 to fill up last time.

"The gas mileage is right around 98 miles to the gallon, and I definitely appreciate it now that gas prices are sky high," Hill said.

By Nannette Miranda, ABC7


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