LOS ANGELES - The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County recorded its second-largest increase since July 14, 2015, Wednesday, rising 13.3 cents to $5.651, its 31st record in 33 days.
The average price has risen 15 consecutive days, increasing 86.4 cents, including 8.9 cents Tuesday, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. It is 72.3 cents more than one week ago, 90.5 cents higher than one month ago and $1.827 greater than one year ago.
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The Orange County average price rose 13 cents to $5.644, its 30th record in 35 days. It has risen 18 consecutive days, increasing 88.4 cents, including 8.8 cents Tuesday. It is 74 cents more than one week ago, 91.6 cents higher than one month ago and $1.827 greater than one year ago.
"The situation at the pump is awful, but Americans have the power to reduce consumption and lower price," tweeted Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, which provides real-time gas price information from more than 150,000 stations.
Oil industry analysts attribute the price spike to the possibility of a supply shortage because traders, shippers, insurance companies and banks are avoiding Russian oil transactions for fear of running afoul of Western sanctions.
President Joe Biden announced Tuesday a ban on Russian oil imports in retaliation for its war of Ukraine. The move follows pleas by Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports. Energy exports have kept a steady influx of cash flowing to Russia despite otherwise severe restrictions on its financial sector.
The rapid rise in fuel prices has led some consumers to complain of price gouging, But experts say that there is nothing illegal about gas station owners increasing prices as long as they do not coordinate their rates with other businesses.
"It's not illegal to charge high prices in and of itself," said Jim Bushnell, an energy economist at UC Berkeley. "It's illegal to conspire with others to fix prices and do other things to reduce competition."
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