San Francisco gas prices highest in the nation

February 21, 2011 11:29:07 PM PST
Tension in the Middle East has caused oil prices to increase, resulting in more expensive gasoline in the Bay Area. There has been a 3 percent increase in just a week, giving San Francisco the dubious distinction as the city with the most expensive gasoline in the country.

At one station in San Francisco, the price for a regular gallon of gas is at $3.79, and prices are headed in one direction. For many that means a lifestyle change.

"Probably try to drive a little less, use public transport," said driver Dick Watts. "That's probably a good result."

"I just don't drive around as much as we used to because of gas prices, because of San Francisco, and the meters, and tickets are higher," said driver Shea Shawnson.

"I only work in the city, so the gas prices are not affecting me," said Muni rider Cassandra Wrightson. However, it is affecting her significant other. "He commutes to Silicon Valley. He has to pay."

Yet business has been good at car dealers this President's Day weekend. People are still interested in SUVs because a psychological gasoline price barrier hasn't been hit yet.

Most motorists have not been affected by the spike in gas prices yet. However, one car dealer told ABC7 that when gas prices hit $4 a gallon, motorists begin to rethink their priorities -- driving less, using public transportation or considering fuel-efficient cars.

"Once I can afford it, a hybrid is definitely where I'm headed with gas prices like this, for sure," said driver Jay Johnson, visiting from Los Angeles.

And we're already seeing more drivers out of their cars and using BART or Muni.

"I'm used to driving my car around, my Ford Focus, which we're leaving it parked and I take Muni and the cable car," said driver Anita Abedian.

According to the Lundberg Survey, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States is $3.18 and San Francisco has the highest priced gas in the nation. AAA's daily fuel gauge shows the average gallon in San Francisco at $3.62 a gallon.

"Last year to fill my tank, I think it was $45," said Anthony Simmons of Oakland. "Now to fill this tank it's $72."

In Oakland, the cost per gallon is slightly less, but still enough to cross the threshold of pain.

The price continues to rise as violence spreads across the ocean in Libya, a member of OPEC. Oil speculation is rampant with new threats of supply disruptions there. Libya produces nearly 1.7 million barrels of crude oil a day. Take that much oil off the global market and analysts say pump prices could skyrocket.

"You're looking at government, or a country, that has the largest oil reserves in the continent of Africa. A major exporter," said Georgetown University professor Adel Iskandar.

BP and Shell gas companies have pulled their employees' families out of Libya. BP has also stopped its onshore drilling operations.

"We are monitoring the situation in Libya very carefully, about where our employees are, and make sure they are safe," said BP CEO Bob Dudley.

Some experts are predicting that in the next seven to 10 days consumers will see prices rise even more.

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