A tightening gasoline supply and strong consumer demand compared with past years of late-spring driving are steadily pushing up gas prices throughout California, AAA reported Tuesday in its monthly statewide gas survey.
The good news: The pace of price increases at the pumps is slow.
AAA said the statewide average price of unleaded regular statewide on Tuesday was $2.86 a gallon, up only 6 cents from the May 10 survey.
In Northern California, the average was $2.85 a gallon, up 8 cents from May. Merced’s average was $2.84 a gallon, up 7 cents from last month. In Modesto, the average price for unleaded regular was $2.73. In Fresno, it was $2.83.
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For comparison, unleaded regular was going for an average $3.02 a gallon in San Francisco. The cheapest gas in Northern California is in Marysville, at $2.57 a gallon.
Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokeswoman, said that, while prices are trending upward, Golden State motorists are actually seeing lower fuel costs over the long term. The average price statewide of unleaded regular one year ago was $3.54 a gallon.
“Continual overall decrease of fuel costs marks the fourth consecutive year of lower gas prices, spelling a prolonged period of relief for pocketbooks,” Harris said.
The national average was $2.38 per gallon, the most expensive average since September 2015, according to AAA. Although pump prices have increased for 28 of the past 33 days, it said, prices are down 42 cents per gallon compared to a year ago.
“The cost of crude oil has moved higher over the past few weeks, which has made gasoline more expensive to start the summer driving season,” the auto club said in a statement. “Crude oil prices have increased due to unexpected disruptions in places like Canada and Nigeria, while questions continue to mount over future production in Venezuela.”
The Merced Sun-Star contributed to this report.