The chance for San Diegans to pay $2 a gallon for gas in 2019 appears to be over. Concern over trade tensions with China is the reason being given for the current rise in San Diego gas prices, says Dan McTeague, oil analyst for gasbuddy.com. But price history and California regulations, may play a bigger role.
In January, many local gas stations went under the $3 a gallon threshold (regular, cash price). Price around the state were dropping daily. One station in the San Joaquin Valley got as low as $2.09.
San Diego motorists have seen a spike in the last two weeks of around 20 cents a gallon. The increases started around the county on January 29, coincidently the same date in 2014 when gasbuddy.com sent an alert to its subscribers, “Buy gas now, expected increase of 25 cents a gallon by tomorrow.” That run up took gas up to around $4.50 a gallon within a month.
Gasbuddy’s charts over the last ten years, show San Diego gas prices have gone up traditionally in February. Although not formally announced, refineries may be gearing up early for California’s regulated summer blend of lower emission gas, estimated to cost 10-15 cents more.
While one can find numerous stations still under $3, primarily in the lower-priced areas of Chula Vista, Escondido, El Cajon/Santee, and Oceanside, some station remain artificially high. They’ll sell less gas, but make more money per gallon.
As of February 11, seven stations remained at or above $4: Perkins’ Store in Descanso peaked out at $4.35, followed by three Shell stations in El Cajon, Sierra Mesa, and downtown at $4.29, $4.19, and $4.09. These four stations' prices remained relatively static during the winter price decreases.
Through all the ups and downs, one anomaly finds a low-price leader 20 miles east of the I-15 freeway, in rural Pauma Valley. The La Jolla Trading Post on Highway 76 on an Indian reservation, doesn’t collect certain taxes as other stations. But one would use up the savings just getting there.