VICTORVILLE - While gas prices continue to rise across the nation, fuel prices in the High Desert and Southern California have been stable, which is good news for holiday motorists.
The average price of gas in San Bernardino County has hovered near the $2.68 per-gallon mark for nearly a month while the national average has risen about 20 cents during the same time.
Stable fuel prices are good news for the nearly 8 million Southern Californians who are expected to travel at least 50 miles away from home from Christmas to New Year's Day, the Auto Club of Southern California reported. The club projects nearly 12.5 million Californians will travel during the holiday season.
Nationally, gas prices have seen their largest December rise in six years and are likely to continue rising through the holidays as oil producing countries agreed to cut production, boosting oil and gasoline prices, according to GasBuddy.com.
"There's never a good time to see gas prices rise, but ahead of the holidays just seems like the worst," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, regarding the price hikes in some 41 states.
Despite drivers on the West Coast paying some of the most expensive prices in the country, commuters in California are enjoying some of the most dramatic month-over-month declines in the country, according to AAA.
Gas prices in the county averaged $2.70 per gallon on Thursday, about two cents higher than the California average and about 43 cents over the national average.
Locally, several gas stations boast prices under $2.44 on Thursday, including Faststrip in Hesperia and MA Food & Gas in Victorville.
Over the last year, commuters in the county saw the highest prices just after the first of the year, when gallons of gas hit near the $3 mark. The lowest price of the year came about two months later when the county average plunged and hit $2.31 per gallon on Feb. 24.
Gasoline production on the West Coast reached a one month high of nearly 1.6 million oil barrels-per-day this month and gasoline inventories remain at about a 15-week high of 29.2 barrels, which was nearly 2 million higher than the same time last year.
The good news is motorists are unlikely to see the return of record high prices any time soon. The bad news is commuters are likely to see their yearly spending on gasoline rise by $120 to $180 or more in 2017 due to less oil supply from oil producers.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.