What’s Going on at Gas Stations in California?

This Bloomberg story about gasoline shortages in California is a bit shocking, especially when considering that even retail giant Costco (a place where we spend untold amounts of money each year on all kinds of things, including gasoline) is having trouble staying supplied with the stuff.

Gasoline station owners in the Los Angeles area including Costco Wholesale Corp. are beginning to shut pumps because of supply shortages that have driven wholesale fuel prices to record highs.

Costco’s outlet in Simi Valley, 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, ran out of regular gasoline yesterday and was selling premium fuel at the price of regular, Jeff Cole, Costco’s vice president of gasoline, said by telephone. The company hasn’t been able to find enough unbranded summer-grade gasoline to keep its stations supplied, he said.

The gasoline shortage “feels like a hurricane to me, but it’s the West Coast,” Cole said yesterday. “We’re obviously extremely disheartened that we are unable to do this, and we’re pulling fuel from all corners of California to fix this.”

Spot, or wholesale, gasoline in Los Angeles has surged 70 cents this week to a premium of $1.15 a gallon versus gasoline futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Unplanned refinery shutdowns and special fuel requirements for the state are to blame and, according to gasbuddy’s heat map, things are blazing hot in the golden state, all of which serve as a timely reminder that we really need a better energy policy in this country.

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