Gas prices in the Los Angeles/Orange County region topped $3 a gallon Monday.

By Hannah Madans, hmadans@scng.com, @HannahMadans on Twitter
Posted: 02/27/17 – 7:30 PM PST |

An increase in oil prices and the upcoming implementation of California’s proprietary summer blend has pushed gas above $3 a gallon across much of Southern California.

In Orange County on Monday, a gallon of regular gas cost an average $3.05, up 22 cents in a month and 57 cents in a year. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach, gas ticked up to $3.04, a 20-cent gain in a month and 54 cents in a year. In Riverside-San Bernardino, gas neared $3, hitting $2.96, up 17 cents in a month and 60 cents in a year.

The last time gas was priced above $3 a gallon was October 2015. Motorists have gotten so comfortable with low gas prices, they’ve been buying more SUVs and trucks and are more likely to hit the road for the holidays.

The price of crude oil has been creeping upward from record lows. In trading Monday, oil hovered at $54 a barrel a gallon, $10 more than a year ago.

GasBuddy petroleum analyst Allison Mac attributed the increase to OPEC, which in November agreed to hold back production. Gas prices, she said, will likely rise 40-70 cents a gallon by peak season in mid-May.

Also helping to drive up gas prices is the seasonal switch to summer blend gasoline from the winter concoction. Summer blend costs 8-12 cents a gallon more to make. The blend is less likely to evaporate in hot weather than the winter blend, which means less air pollution. All gas stations must make the switch by April 1.

The switch can sometimes wreak havoc at refineries as maintenance issues erupt, leading to temporary closures or a disruption in the supply chain.

The Torrance refinery had a small fire Feb. 18, impacting one unit that processes crude oil. The fire occurred at the same time activists gathered to mark the two-year anniversary of a different explosion at the facility.

To read expanded article, click here.