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California Allows Early Move To Winter-Blend Gasoline As Prices Top $6

The California Air Resources Board allowed late on Thursday, effective immediately, the speeding up of delivery of winter-blend gasoline ahead of the usual regulatory start, as California Governor Gavin Newsom looks to curb the spike in gasoline prices which have topped $6 per gallon.

In response to direction received from the Governor on Wednesday, CARB allows an early transition to winter-blend gasoline and is allowing the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of winter-blend gasoline.

Governor Newsom wrote in his letter to CARB “California refiners are required to produce summer-blend gasoline through October in most areas of the State. After October 31, a winter-blend gasoline is allowed.”

But he added, “In light of the price spikes, we should not wait until the end of the month to start distributing or to ramp up production of our winter-blend gasoline.”

Newsom directed CARB to immediately take steps to allow the early transition to winter-bled gasoline, which is up to $0.25 a gallon cheaper than the summer blend, but evaporates more quickly in warmer weather.

CARB exercised its enforcement discretion to allow gasoline sold or supplied in California that exceeds the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) limits through the end of October 31, 2023.

As of September 29, gasoline prices in California averaged $6.079 per gallon, much higher than the U.S. average of $3.832/gal, according to AAA data.

Prices in California are much higher than $5.290 per gallon a month ago and not far off the records seen last year in October 2022. A year ago, the average gasoline price in California was $6.181 a gallon.

After CARB issued a California-wide waiver allowing the transition to winter gasoline, wholesale gasoline prices could begin to drop on Friday and relief at the pump in California could arrive next week, said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy.

“If you do not need gasoline, wait to buy it,” De Haan said, adding that relief would likely come in the days ahead and put downward pressure on gasoline prices in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada, too.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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