Energy

It's Spring, So California Refineries Are Suddenly Having a Few Problems

| Fri Apr. 18, 2014 11:11 AM EDT

The swallows may no longer return to Capistrano, but don't worry. We still have an annual rite of spring here in California:

A gallon of regular gasoline hit a statewide average of $4.196 on Thursday, up about 13 cents in a week, according to AAA. That's the highest price since March 2013....Problems at a few refineries in the Golden State undergoing routine spring maintenance have squeezed inventory and boosted prices, analysts said. And only a handful of refineries outside the state are capable of making the ultra-clean type of gasoline mandated in California.

"A couple of refinery issues have started to flare up, which is fairly normal this time of the year," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, a fuel price tracking website.

I used to keep a file of clippings of this exact same story running each spring and summer. I mean, literally the exact same story. Every year, right at the point where the winter/summer switch squeezes supplies from out of state, there would suddenly be a bunch of "glitches" that took some local refinery capacity offline and prices would spike.

I haven't bothered with that for a while, but seeing this story today brought back memories, so I just thought I'd share. It's an amazing annual coincidence, isn't it?