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Economy

High San Diego gas prices are a boon for stations in Tijuana

Tijuana gas stations are capitalizing on California’s record-high gas prices. KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis found several stations advertising cheaper gas to commuters heading to San Diego.

Tijuana gas stations are offering San Diegans a refuge from record-high fuel prices.

“Last chance to save on gas,” reads a large sign in front of a Chevron gas station near the SENTRI lane at the San Ysidro border crossing.

Gas there is 22.29 pesos per liter. Which — after converting liters to gallons and pesos to dollars — comes out to $4.46 per gallon. That is nearly $2 less than San Diego County’s current average of $6.42.

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“About 70% of the customers are American,” Sonia Elena Lopez, an attendant at the station, said in Spanish. “They usually come in the evening or on Saturday.”

Lopez said it’s easy to spot Americans. They pull up to the pump and say, “full.” That is the only English word Lopez knows.

They also pay (and tip) in dollars.

“They are very good customers because they leave great tips,” she said. “I’ve gotten some $20 tips.”

The main reason for the price difference is that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has kept gas prices low through government subsidies to oil companies and refineries. Also, Mexican gasoline has lower emission standards than California gasoline.

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Although Tijuana’s gas stations are seeing more business, local experts are concerned that American demand is driving up the cost of Mexican gasoline.

Alejandro Borja Robles, head of the local gas station association, told local media that Tijuana already has some of the highest gas prices in Mexico.

California’s record-high prices come as state residents are set to receive a gas credit of as much as $1,050 per household.

Experts blamed California’s spike in gas prices on the fact that most of the country is already using winter blend gasoline, which is cheaper than the summer blend that California will continue to use until Nov. 1.

Another factor driving up the prices is planned and unplanned maintenance at some California oil refineries, according to AAA, which tracks gas prices.

The national average is $3.80, according to AAA.

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