Drivers are noticing gas prices in the $5 range in California and Californians are paying the most per gallon in the nation.
It’s the most expensive in the US. The national average is $2.67, according to pricing website GasBuddy.com
The average price on Thursday is $4.18 in Santa Barbara County, $4.20 in Ventura County and $4.31 in San Luis Obispo County, according to the AAA website.
Since last month, prices have increased 52 cents statewide.
The latest surge in gas prices can be primarily blamed on refinery issues and a lack of available imported gasoline, AAA said in a news release last week.
AAA also said the attacks on major oil fields in Saudi Arabia last month contributed to the rises in prices.
“Unplanned maintenance issues at the Chevron and Marathon refineries in Los Angeles County are the primary reason. Also, Oil Price Information Service reports that Southern California received no imported gasoline in the last week. These factors are continuing the spike that began after the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure earlier this month,” Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring said.
Experts said gas prices throughout the state have not peaked yet.
“Prices will likely continue to stay high for a number of days, depending on how quickly local refineries can re-start and increase production,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring. “On top of the refinery problems, California refiners depend on Saudi Arabia for about 20 percent of their oil needs.”
Gas Buddy analyst Patrick DeHaan tweeted Wednesday morning, “There’s an end in sight to the spike in gas prices. It may take a couple more days for increases to stop, but a peak should happen very soon after. Following that, perhaps by early next week, prices will start to recede.”
UC Santa Barbara geographers recently studied stations that charge more for fuel than others in same general location.
Dr. Alan Murray said, “California is an interesting market. We pay a premium for taxes that go to various initiatives and that is not true for any other state.”
Murray and Jing Xu used spacial analytics, statistics and the real time Gas Buddy app information to compare prices.
“The study we did together showed that amenties matter a lot, for example, if there is a store or car wash- that can reduce prices because that can subsidize what they do at the pump,” said Murray.
They found people saving money by filling up away from freeways and busy shopping and restaurant areas.
Sage Davis of Santa Barbara founder more affordable gas at Fuel Depot in Goleta.
” I like to get away from the freeway myself .I know that right next to the freeway is pretty expensive. I am doing this as a honey-do for my wife because I normally put natural gas in my vehicle, which is about $2.14 a gallon,” said Davis.
Researchers were intested in gauging and found a station that fit the definition between Goleta and Solvang with the the highest prices. People getting gas said they weren’t filling up but needed enough gas to get to the next station.
Murray said prices are complicated.
“It’s a complicated mix, because it depends not only on the amenties ,the brands, but also spacial location and what is nearby and if there is competition that brings down the price.”
Refineries and an attack on an oil field in Saudi Arabia during the summer are impacted prices.
Regardless of the cause, people are likely to change their driving habits if they can’t afford rising prices.
Fuel saving tips can be found here.