Why are gas prices so high in the Bay Area? Here's what experts say

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Thursday, April 11, 2024
Why are gas prices so high in the Bay Area?
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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Gas prices in California are up $.50 in the last month, according to AAA. That is higher than the rest of the nation who are only seeing about a $.30 increase. The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in California is $5.385. In each of the Bay Area counties it's over $5.50.

"A whole tank cost me about $65 $70," said John Altemus, who was filling up at a Chevron station in Orinda. "It was over $6. A little bit too much right now."

Why is it higher in the Bay Area than the rest of the country? Tom Klosa, the head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service says several reasons, but two are big factors. He says refineries are focusing on maintenance while also producing oil, and one of the five Bay Area refineries is no longer producing gas.

"You've got refinery maintenance that is scheduled for Chevron in Richmond," Klosa said. "You have refinery maintenance at Chevron in El Segundo in the south, and you have refinery maintenance for PBF which operates the Martinez refinery."

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Phillps 66 in Rodeo changed production from making gasoline to now producing renewable bio diesel.

"One of the refineries that was contributing about 50,000 barrels a day gasoline is now no longer making gasoline," he said.

Klosa says he expects to keep rising for the next 40 days. By the summer, he says they should start to go down. However, if any refinery has an issue, Klosa says that will drive prices back up.

"If you have a problem with the refinery in Benicia or Wilmington in the south, you could really have some pretty severe issues."

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For now, drivers say they will just have to budget accordingly.

"Everything is expensive," Altemus said. "Rent is going up, food is going up, now gas. $6 is kind of crazy."

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