Gas prices still rising

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline in San Diego County rose seven-tenths of a cent Friday to $2.044, the 17th increase in the past 18 days.

The average price is 8.5 cents more last week and 33.2 cents more than a month ago, but $1.243 less than at this time last year and $2.586 less than the record high of $4.63 set on June 19, according to figures from the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Although the cost of crude oil - the leading component in the gasoline pump price - continues its decline, the price of gasoline in California is increasing because “California refineries have sharply cut production of the state’s blend of unleaded gasoline in favor of fuel blends with higher profit margins,’’ Automobile Club of Southern California spokesman Jeffrey Spring said, citing comments by oil industry analysts.

The national average price of a gallon of unleaded self-serve regular gasoline rose 1.7 cents today to $1.816, 3.4 cents more than a week ago and 14.9 cents more than last month, but $1.228 less than this time last year and $2.298 less than the record high of $4.114 set July 17.

California’s gasoline prices are typically higher than the national average and among the highest in the nation because of taxes and a longtime state law mandating a “boutique blend’’ of fuel to reduce polluting emissions.