Painful Gas Price Hike Coming Soon - NBC 7 San Diego

Painful Gas Price Hike Coming Soon

Refinery changes driving up prices



    Clean air comes at a price, but surges in gas prices could cost families much more at the pump.

    "The oil industry can use these alleged shortages, these shutdown to really take advantage of the market," said oil industry critic Charles Langley with the consumer group UCAN. 

    Langley is talking about the annual transition from Winter to Summer blend of gas that is sold at California gas stations. 

    "Our concern is what we're seeing right now, unless prices immediately reverse, is a Super Spike," said Langley. 

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    Wholesale prices paid by San Diego independent stations are up 47 cents a gallon since Monday.  When those independent dealers run out of their current supply of fuel and fill up with more expensive gas, the price at the pump will climb.

    The summer blend provides cleaner burning fuel and cuts down on air pollution. But to create the special fuel, California oil refineries must transition into a more expensive brand of fuel. Some oil companies will use the transition to perform routine maintenance. 

    But whatever the reason, the price at the pump is climbing fast and drivers aren't happy about it.

    "I can't afford to keep pumping fuel in this truck," said Jim Gough, who uses his pickup truck for work.

    Scott Ash says every time he drives into a gas station, he's paying more to fill up.

    "You just have to grin and bare it," he said.

    But Charles Langley says drivers won't be grinning when they see prices start climbing a nickel a day. 

    "A lot of gas buyers are going to go into sticker shock," said Langley. He predicts average gas prices will go above $4 a gallon within the next two weeks.

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