The latest spike in gas prices is being blamed on a fire at a Richmond, Calif.-based Chevron oil refinery.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Inland Southern California, including Murrieta, is 6.7 cents more than one week ago, 19.1 cents greater than one month ago and 10.1 cents above what it was one year ago, and analysts are predicting more steep price increases due to the Chevron fire.
The fire broke out Monday and was caused by a leak at the refinery, according to The Associated Press. The Richmond refinery is located about 10 miles northwest of San Francisco and produces about 150,000 barrels of gasoline a day — or 16 percent of the region's daily gasoline consumption of 963,000 barrels, Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service, told The Associated Press.
The fire, Kloza said, will cause West Coast pump prices to soon average more than $4 a gallon.
The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in the Inland Empire rose Wednesday for the 26th time in 27 days, increasing 1.5 cents to $3.873 -- its highest amount since June 21.
Chevron spokesman Lloyd Avram told The Associated Press he did not know when the Richmond refinery could be restarted and he declined to comment on how the shutdown might impact the gasoline market.
Analyst Patrick DeHaan of the website GasBuddy.com is warning West Coast motorists.
"Spot prices have already increased by as much as 30 cents per gallon in some West Coast markets and that's before the refinery damage has been fully assessed," DeHaan said.