California gas taxes will likely prevent prices from dropping much further.
  • California gas taxes will likely prevent prices from dropping much further.
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As of 5:00 p.m. on December 12, the U.S. Gas station at 445 West 5th Avenue, at the corner of Centre City Parkway in Escondido, sold the lowest-priced regular gas in San Diego County. In fact, for the past few weeks, several of Escondido’s independent stations have been locked in penny-by-penny price reduction to be the lowest in the county.

According to Gasbuddy.com, on the afternoon of December 12, the top ten lowest-priced stations in the county were all in Escondido, with the exception of the Costco in San Marcos, which sat at the number-two spot. A year ago, when prices were falling, Escondido also took the top spot in the county for the cheapest gas.

U.S. Gas customer Bob has been driving down from Ramona once a week to attend a class. He said he realized by gassing up at the Escondido station he’s saving $8 a fill-up over Ramona stations. “There’s a 40-cents-a-gallon difference,” said Bob.

A taxi-cab driver, Rodolpho, said he’s saving a lot of money on the ten gallons a day he purchases. “I usually get it here or one of the other cheap stations around,” he said.

In the heavily regulated California gas industry, there is no difference in quality between brands. Fuel sold by independent stations is surplus branded gas distributed by refiners from the tank farm in Mission Valley, across the street from Qualcomm Stadium.

With Escondido’s high number of independent stations, along with lower priced AM/PM and 7-Eleven stations, one could pass up 25 such stations before finding the lowest priced major branded station — a 76 on South Escondido Boulevard at West 3rd Street, priced 28 cents above U.S. Gas.

Abdo at the OAAI station (only three cents more than U.S. Gas) says the reason Escondido has lower prices is all the independent stations are in competition with each other. “We also know that most of our customers are working in the service industry, and they can’t afford high prices,” said Abdo. “It’s our strategy to attract more business. We want more customers,” he added.

Another reason for the lower prices: the independents are in older stations, abandoned in the 1980s by the major brands when the expected growth along the eastern section of Valley Parkway didn’t occur, due to the cancelation of Highway 78 freeway plans and the Highway 395 section through town being replaced by I-15.

Additionally, in the older buildings, pumps and the convenience stores are not as kept up as the major brands; thus, the cost of doing business (leases, etc.) is less than modern freeway interchange locations now coveted by the majors.

The current downward slide in countywide gas prices started on July 15, averaging a decrease by few cents a day — from a $4.23/gallon high average. Early this year in Escondido, San Diego County residents saw the lowest-priced gas since 2009. For one day, January 16, the Vons station on Centre City Parkway dropped to $2.05 a gallon, just before profit-taking on the world oil market caused gas prices to rise $1.50 a gallon nationwide in less than a month.

Even with oil prices falling to under $40 a barrel, no one is yet predicting that San Diegans will see $2-a-gallon gas, mainly due to a continued Torrance refinery shutdown and Californians paying the highest gas taxes in the country. Yet, several Costcos in Northern California have prices that are currently hovering around $2.10/gallon.

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Comments

Visduh Dec. 14, 2015 @ 5 p.m.

Shhhh, Ken. If you tell too many people, they'll be driving from all around the county to get those lowest prices, and ruin it for us. The big Von's station on the south end of 'Dido sells a huge amount of gasoline, with lines almost all day. Yesterday in Escondido I got 87 octane with a credit card for $2.459, which wasn't the very lowest price in town.

With crude below $40 a barrel on the world market, could we see some more relief? Sure hope so, but I'm not going to count on that.

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Ken Harrison Dec. 16, 2015 @ 6:34 a.m.

I heard on the radio that some are predicting $15 a barrel in 2016, because oil producing countries can't stop pumping, even with world glut. Those are countries that were not part of the 1970s OPEC. The number of countries producing oil have expanded greatly, including production here in our own country. And they all like the cash. I won't mention the price of gas in OKLA cuz I might just drive there to fill up :)

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Visduh Dec. 16, 2015 @ 8:18 p.m.

Late last summer we were passing through S. Carolina, and for a short stretch of the highway, gasoline prices were shockingly low. When I didn't need much, the stuff was selling for $1.799. By the time I needed to fill up, it was at least 40 cents higher.

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AlexClarke Dec. 15, 2015 @ 6:25 a.m.

I remember when gas prices in San Diego was 24 cents and we would drive to Escondido to purchase gas at 18 cents. That was a loooooooooooong time ago.

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Visduh Dec. 15, 2015 @ 8:29 a.m.

Alex, you must be as old as I am, and I'm very old. Yes, indeed.

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jnojr Dec. 17, 2015 @ 8:55 a.m.

So, where are all the cries about how the evil, greedy oil companies are screwing us? Why aren't they screwing us today, but tomorrow if gas goes up a nickel the bleats and whines about the greatest injustice in the world start up? And, of course, the ueful idiots never want to acknowledge that we have some of the highest gas prices in the nation for one reason, and one reason only... government. Between the excessive taxes they levy against gas and the costs of all the regulations and taxes they levy against the refineries, Sacramento is solely responsible for the disparity between CA and everywhere else.

But it's easier to keep electing Democrats and blaming Republicans, isn't it?

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jnojr Dec. 17, 2015 @ 8:57 a.m.

Oh, and don't forget that 7-11 gas is Citgo, which is owned by the Venezuelan national oil company. Buying from them supports a brand of Socialism that even Barack Obama isn't ready to try to foist upon us.

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Ken Harrison Dec. 17, 2015 @ 12:36 p.m.

Actually jnojr, Citgo's contract with 7-Eleven ended in 2006. 7-Eleven buys gas from an independent wholesaler in Torrance.

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Ken Harrison Dec. 17, 2015 @ 3:45 p.m.

STORY UPDATE Here we go again. Gasbuddy.com just sent out an alert to its subscribers, "Gas prices are expected to increase 10-25 cents in California over the next week. You may want to fill up." Gas prices gets to low and the oil companies, for no reason, or same bogus reason, raise prices.

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