As wholesale gasoline prices set all-time highs, some filling stations run out of fuel and don’t buy more. Others stay open and pass along costs to customers.

Jump in Gas Prices Triggers Shortages
By Ronald D. White and Dalina Castellanos, Los Angeles Times

October 5, 2012

Skyrocketing gasoline prices caused some local service stations to shut off their pumps Thursday while others shocked customers with overnight price increases of 30 cents or more.

California’s fuel industry isn’t running out of gasoline — supplies are only 2.5% lower than this time last year — but recent refinery and pipeline mishaps sent wholesale prices to all-time highs this week. As a result, some station owners weren’t buying fuel for fear they couldn’t sell it. Those who did buy simply kicked prices higher and bet customers would understand.

“If this keeps up, I’ll be looking at $5-a-gallon gas by next Thursday,” said Ali Mazarei, who owns an Arco station in Riverside County. On Thursday, Mazarei was charging $4.52 for a gallon of regular gasoline, up from $4.27 on Wednesday and $4.21 on Tuesday.

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“I really don’t have any choice here, and I won’t be making money at $4.52 a gallon,” he said.

Some fuel stops had already crossed the $5 threshold.

On Thursday afternoon, the Low-P station in Calabasas was selling regular gasoline for $5.69 a gallon in cash, or $5.79 for credit card purchases. In addition to the high prices, the pumps displayed hand-lettered signs reading: “We are sorry, it is not our fault.”

The station, whose name is short for “low price,” is usually full of drivers attracted by the high-profile location at Calabasas Road and Parkway Calabasas, right off the 101 Freeway. But customers thinned out as prices soared.

Low-P has to pay more “because we’re an independent gas station” that lacks the buying power of its big-brand counterparts, said owner John Rabi, who paid $40,000 for a 9,000-gallon load that day, up from $32,000 a few days before.

Some drivers didn’t pick up on the price right away.

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