Drivers see another spike in gas prices

April 24, 2011 5:40:02 PM PDT
There has been another big spike in gas prices.

The latest Lundberg survey of fuel prices finds gas has jumped another 12 cents in the past two weeks. The national average is now $3.88 for a gallon of regular, but in San Francisco, the average is $4.22 which is similar to prices being seen across the rest of the Bay Area. This news comes even as oil companies are expected to announce record profits in the coming week.

"Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about it, but I'm trying to drive less and I've considered getting a vehicle that doesn't cost as much to operate. So, I don't see prices coming down any time soon unfortunately," driver Shaun Moore toldABC7.

While drivers are hurting, oil companies certainly are not. They are expected to report strong growth in first quarter profits this week. Exxon is expected to report a nearly 60 percent increase in profits, about $10 billion. Shell is expected to see a 22 percent increase, about $5.9 billion. Bay Area-based Chevron is expected to report about the same.

"They don't need to make that much of a profit at our expense when there's so many people hurting right now. A lot of people have lost their jobs. It's rough out there," Francine Perkins said.

Experts say that while there are ample stockpiles of petroleum, uncertainty over what is going on in North Africa and the Middle East is driving prices up.

"It's what will happen a month down the line, two months down the line, and that's the risk which is driving prices up. And, this is pre-summer. We always see a price increase in the summer time with extra driving, so we're seeing another thing adding into a whole pipeline that might raise prices even more by the time we get to, say, September," explained Prof. Dan Kammen with the UCB Energy and Resources Group.

The soaring gas prices are already taking a toll on vacation spots. At Mount Rushmore, for instance, there were 6,000 fewer visitors last month than March of last year. Also, helicopter tours at Grand Canyon are down 10 percent. All of this comes as little surprise as many drivers are avoiding long trips in the car.

"We make less outings, I'd say. We try to stay more close to home on the weekends than we did before," said Jason Oringer.

While Bay Area gas prices are high, they are not the highest in the country. Chicago averages a nickel higher.

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