Refinery Blaze Fires Up Gas Prices

Drivers all across Northern California are seeing massive jumps at the pump as gas prices leap over $4 per gallon in most parts of the state. According to the latest report from AAA Northern California, which tracks gas prices as a service to consumers, every metro area in Northern California saw a double-digit jump in its average price over the past month of at least 28 cents.

California’s average for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is $4.10, up 40 cents since last month’s AAA report on July 10. For perspective, that’s 37 cents less than California’s average price on this date last year. Among all 50 states, California has the second highest state average price for regular, unleaded gasoline. Hawaii is first at $4.17.

Northern California gas prices are now averaging $4.10, up 39 cents from last month. In the San Francisco Bay Area, motorists can expect to pay an average price of $4.18, which is a 32-cent increase. The national average price of $3.70 is up by 32 cents, which is 10 cents more than the national price on this date last year, when it was $3.60.

“The recent fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond has created a short-term spike in gas prices across many parts of the Pacific Northwest and Nevada,” said AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris. “It still remains to be seen how long the impact of the fire will be felt. Meanwhile, across the United States, positive economic news has been putting upward pressure on oil prices.”

Besides the impact of the Chevron fire and positive economic news in the U.S., there are some additional influences to the prices at the pump. Gasoline prices have been broadly driven by higher global crude oil prices, which is partially due to mixed news about the global economy. There’s also been fresh concern about geopolitical tensions with Iran and what that could potentially mean to oil supplies from the region. This comes at a time when there’s a seasonal increase in demand due to the summer driving season. Additionally, a weaker U.S. dollar has also helped to push up prices. Because oil futures are traded in U.S. dollars, a weaker dollar means futures are relatively less expensive for investors to buy and are therefore a more attractive investment. Also, in several states outside the West Coast, there have been regional price spikes due to various supply and distribution issues.

The least expensive average price in Northern California can be found in Marysville and Modesto where regular is $4.00 per gallon in both metro areas. Of all the metro areas in Northern California where gas prices are tracked by AAA, Eureka has the highest average price at $4.37. The least expensive gasoline in the country is found in the Tucson, Arizona, metro area. The average price of gas in that metro area is $3.26. Chicago, Illinois, holds the dubious crown for the highest average price in the nation, at $4.41 per gallon.

To get the best mileage possible, AAA recommends keeping tires at the proper pressure suggested by the vehicle manufacturer, performing

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