AAA survey: Gas prices continue to climb in Marin, state

Rob Rich of Bolinas replaces the nozzle after filling his truck with $83.34 worth of gas at the Chevron station at 458 Miller Ave. in Mill Valley. Frankie Frost — Marin Independent Journal

Motorists fill their cars at the Chevron station at 458 Miller Ave. in Mill Valley. Frankie Frost — Marin Independent Journal

Those low gas prices seen around Marin weeks ago sure didn’t last long.

In January, a gallon of unleaded gas in San Rafael dropped to $2.61, and at cheaper outlets in the county it was hovering just above $2. In February, the San Rafael price crept up to $2.75.

Now the price stands at $3.46, up 71 cents from last month, according to a survey released Tuesday by AAA Northern California.

Among the highest prices in Marin on Tuesday was $4.29 for a gallon at the Shell on Nave Drive in Novato, $3.59 at the Chevron on East Blithedale Avenue in Mill Valley, and $3.53 at the Chevron on Madera Boulevard in Corte Madera, according to GasBuddy.com. Bridgeway Gas in Sausalito was offering an unleaded gallon at an eye-popping $6.97 on Tuesday.

“I’m very much looking forward to buying an electric car next year,” said Cindy Storman of Mill Valley as she filled up at the Chevron station on Miller Avenue in the city. “I’m sick of prices going up.”

Said Rob Rich of Bolinas after filling his truck with $83.34 worth of gas at the Chevron station: “It’s a rip-off. The gas companies just manipulate gas prices for their own needs.”

All this despite gas production domestically hitting record levels and strong global supplies.

West Coast markets have seen dramatic run-ups over the past several weeks due to a number of supply issues, said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokeswoman. Production at Tesoro’s refinery across San Pablo Bay in Martinez remains limited as it aims to restart after recent maintenance. An explosion last month at Exxon Mobil’s refinery in Torrance in Southern California also cut production.

“Retail gas prices typically trend higher this time of year as suppliers undergo maintenance and plan to reduce winter grade fuel in preparation for the changeover to summer-grade gasoline, which is more costly to produce,” Harris said.

The global price of crude oil remains volatile due to speculation about possible production cuts due to oversupply and news of rising global demand, according to AAA. Meanwhile, production in the United States continues to hit record levels, and stockpiles have climbed to their highest weekly levels since 1982.

But the production hasn’t helped gas consumers in California. As of Tuesday, the state’s average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $3.43, up 78 cents from the Feb. 10 AAA survey. The highest recorded price ever registered in the state of California was in October 2012, at $4.67 a gallon for unleaded regular.

California has the highest price in the country. Hawaii, at $3.14, and California are the only states reporting average prices over $3.

Northern California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.37, 75 cents more than last month. The cheapest gas can be found in Marysville at $3.21 per gallon. San Mateo registers the highest price at $3.47.

The national average price is $2.45, an increase of 26 cents from a month ago, but still $1.04 lower than a year ago.

IJ photographer Frankie Frost contributed to this report.

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