The price of a gallon of gas in the Bay Area is inching closer $4, and some analysts say it could hit that mark in just a few weeks.
Gas price analysts say a four-year trend of relatively low gas prices may be ending, and drivers already have noticed those prices creeping up.
"Oh, because it’s in higher demand," said Giovanni Shad of San Jose. "It’s expensive here because of a lot of commuting."
AAA California analyst Michael Blasky says that’s exactly the reason.
"West Coast demand has been really strong, and that’s because we’ve got a booming economy out here," Blasky said.
Bay Area commuters are driving longer distances oftentimes because of work. And consumers are starting to choose bigger vehicles again; truck and SUV sales have recently jumped.
Finally, while more fuel is being consumed, less is being produced.
"Back in 2017, OPEC agreed to cut oil production," said Patrick DeHaan, analyst for gasbuddy.com. "And for the last 15 months, global oil inventories have been declining as a result."
DeHaan says Middle East gas producers tried putting U.S. drilling operations out of business several years ago by flooding the market with their less expensive oil.
But that strategy hasn’t worked, he said, so OPEC now hopes to stabilize oil prices at between $60 and $70 a barrel. Wednesday's price was $68.
Californians this year also are being taxed an additional 12 cents per gallon.
"Just as a result of that tax, the average California motorist is going to be spending $95 more a month this year than last year," DeHaan said.