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Gas prices surging at the pump; 20 cents per gallon jump in a day

PIX Now -- Wednesday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom
PIX Now -- Wednesday morning headlines from the KPIX newsroom 11:25

SAN FRANCISCO -- After weeks of slow decline, prices at the gas pumps across  the San Francisco Bay Area have surged once again Wednesday to over $6 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

According to AAA, there has been nearly a 20-cent jump between the price of unleaded in the last 24 hours. 

San Francisco rose from $6.098 to $6.289. San Jose's jump was from $5.967 to $6.142 and motorists filling up in Oakland experienced an increase from $5.083 to $6.155.

San Rafael residents were among the highest in the state jumping from $6.107 to $6.304.

The wild swing in prices has taken even veteran industry watchdog Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, by surprise.

"One of the longest gas price declines on record has finally come to an end after 14 weeks, with gas prices shooting up in several regions amidst myriad refinery issues from the West Coast to the Great Lakes and in between," De Haan said in his weekly blog. "I don't know that I've ever seen a wider gamut of price behaviors coast to coast in my career."

"A slew of unexpected refinery disruptions, including fires and routine maintenance, have seemingly all happened in a short span of time, causing wholesale gas prices to spike in areas of the West Coast, Great Lakes and Plains states," he added. "Some of those areas could see prices spike another 25-75 cents per gallon or more until issues are worked out."

Officials have cited "unplanned" refinery maintenance as the stimulus for the steep rise.

"Oil Price Information Service reports that several local refineries are undergoing unplanned maintenance as fuel inventories are at their lowest levels in a decade, which caused Los Angeles wholesale gas prices to rise sharply this week," said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe from Southern California.   

According to Gasbuddy, California, Hawaii and Nevada have the highest prices at the pump.  The steep rise in prices has also caught the attention of lawmakers in Sacramento. 

"California gas prices have jumped 24 cents in the last two days," Assemblyman Kevin Kiley said in a press release. "Californians are now paying over $6 per gallon, nearly $3 more than the national average. This is the result of longstanding policy failures, compounded by the Governor and Legislature's refusal to suspend the gas tax as other states have."

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