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Refinery Woes Send Gas Prices Soaring At The Pump

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Gas prices across California are averaging $1 above the national average and refineries are being blamed for the higher prices.

A gallon of gas will cost you $3.79 in San Francisco, $3.57 in San Jose, and $3.56 in Oakland. The national average is $2.67. Prices jumped nearly 40 cents in one week.

The Valero refinery in Benicia is one of the reasons why.

The refinery experienced a malfunction at the beginning of the month and on Saturday it triggered plumes of thick gray smoke to be emitted from the facility. The particles emitted are called "coke" a byproduct of the refinery process, they're made mostly from carbon particles.

Health officials say the air quality never reached dangerous levels but they did discourage outdoor activity.

"We should be conscientious of what's going on at the refineries people need to step in and speak up," Hanna Kim of San Francisco said.

Kim says while she's concerned this won't change her activity in the short term.

"I drive for work there's not much I can do," she said. "I mean I think it takes a little out of everyone's pocket, everyone feels it," Tyler Woods said. He added, "I think my next car will be an electric car."

The highest gas price on record in San Francisco was in 2012 when a gallon cost $4.83, refinery shutdowns contributed to those prices too, coupled with tensions in the Middle East.


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