Gas prices normally go up this time of year as refiners switch from winter to summer blends but this year, mix in some uncertainty in the Middle East and refinery shutdowns in California, and an increase in gas prices has turned into a surge.
Drivers seem to have their own theories about why gas prices have shot up in the Bay Area and while the cause can be a bit of a mystery, there's no doubt in peoples' minds about how it affects them. "I pay like $700 a month in gas," Devon Rucker told ABC7 News. He works as a courier who drives his own truck and gets paid 31 cents per mile no matter how high the price at the pump. "The prices lately, I don't know. I just feel like, I don't know," he said, shaking his head.
The national average price of unleaded gas jumped 17 cents in just the past week. It jumped up 24 cents in California. "In this situation, because there's been several shutdowns for scheduled maintenance and then we had one refinery shut down because of a maintenance issue that was not foreseen, therefore, there's a speculation that there may not be enough supply," said Cynthia Harris with AAA Northern California.
A spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association offered an additional reason for the price hike. "California refiners are transitioning from their winter formulas to the summer formulas as required by state law. This transition period in the past has been associated with higher prices," they said in a statement.
Whatever the reason is, drivers do notice and in many cases, shape their habits to fit what they can afford. "When you're trying to fill up a van like this, it costs a lot so all I can do is about $30 at a time," said Don Wentworth of Walnut Creek. "It's expensive. It affects my paycheck, everything."
Analysts say not to expect any relief any time soon. Prices are expected to continue inching up for the foreseeable future.