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San Diego Gas Prices Leap Upward

Aired 2/24/12 on KPBS News.

San Diego's average gas price jumped eight cents a gallon overnight, and the price will likely continue to go up. Analysts think the price could surge even more by Monday.

— A major British Petroleum refinery in Carson California has unexpectedly shut down, and that is driving up prices on the wholesale gas market.

The Utility Consumer's Action Network tracks local prices at hundreds of San Diego gas stations. UCAN said the BP refinery makes 13.5 percent of all the gas sold in California. Squeezing the supply is pushing prices up. The average gas price has already climbed to record levels over the past two weeks, and the increase is accelerating.

San Diego Gas Prices Leap Upward
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"We've got refineries already off line," said Charles Langley of UCAN. "Tesoro and Valero took their refineries off line in planned maintenance and this helped create the spike in prices. But, anything else, when you start taking too many refineries off line you don't have any surplus fuel."

Independent gas station owners typically buy surplus fuel and the shrinking supply will push prices up dramatically through the weekend. That cost will likely be passed on to consumers.

"Its a recipe for a perfect storm. We are going to see very high gas prices in the next few days at a time of year when prices are normally going up anyway," said Langley.

Gas prices broke the four dollar a gallon barrier a week ago and they could easily climb to $4.50 a gallon next week, according to Langley.

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