Gas Prices Skyrocket

The fuel price spikes come after a dramatic increase in wholesale prices for fuel

Gas prices in California skyrocketed overnight in some areas, jumping 16 cents per gallon to $4.59 in San Francisco. Oakland's price is $4.52 and San Jose is $4.53.

That's up nearly 40 cents from a week ago.

NBC Bay Area looked around and found a station in Cupertino charging a whopping $5.39 per gallon of unleaded. $5.59 per gallon for premium.

A week of soaring costs has led some stations to close and others to charge record prices as California leapfrogged Hawaii as the state with the most expensive fuel. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded across California was nearly $4.49 on Friday, 32 cents more than a week ago and the highest statewide average in the nation, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge report.

The price spikes come after a dramatic increase in wholesale prices for fuel.

Analysts say mishaps at some of the state's 14 refineries has triggered a gas shortage. They say effects from August's fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond are also contributing. Plus, there is trouble with an oil pipeline that supplies Valero and Shell stations across the state. Analysts predict prices could continue to rise over the next few weeks.

 There was some good news.
Exxon Mobil Corp. said a refinery in Torrance returned to normal operations Friday after a power failure Monday disrupted production for most of the week. State officials acknowledged that reduced supplies triggered a price spike but with the refinery coming back online, prices should start falling.
"The wholesale market appears to have peaked and is heading down,'' said Alison ApRoberts, a spokeswoman for the California Energy Commission. ``Because it takes a little while for the price reductions to funnel through the system,  consumers at the pumps should start to see some declines over the next week.''
Gasoline inventories in California, however, are still at their lowest point in more than 10 years, a situation made worse by the mandate for the special summer gasoline blend. Few refineries outside the state can make it, meaning there are few outside sources to draw from for help, Cinquegrana said.
The California Air Resources Board was reviewing a request from the California Independent Oil Marketers Association for a waiver that would allow gas stations to begin selling winter-blend gasoline before Halloween.
David Clegern, a spokesman for the air board, said the California Energy Commission would have to review gas inventories to confirm there is a shortage and assess what effect the switch would have on air quality.
ApRoberts said Friday that the commission has determined that the state has plenty of gasoline to meet consumer demand.
Gil Duran, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, said in an email that his office is "monitoring the situation closely.''

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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