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Gas prices spike as Obama eyes oil reserves

March 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Drivers across the country, including Southern Californians, are seeing killer prices at the pump, many now paying about $4 per gallon. With the skyrocketing prices, the White House is considering tapping into the national oil reserve.

Gas prices have shot up since a month ago. According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, the average price for a gallon of gas in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $3.91 per gallon, which is up 50 cents from last month.

In Orange County, the average price for a gallon of gas is at $3.89, which is up 49 cents from last month. In the Inland Empire, the average price for a gallon of gas is at $3.88, which is up 50 cents from last month. In Ventura County, the average price for a gallon of gas is at $3.92, which is also up 50 cents from last month.

The nationwide average is $3.50 a gallon.

The continuing unrest in the Middle East, particularly in Libya, is causing the price of gas to go up higher and faster than almost any other time in history. With almost no end in sight, many motorists are choosing to change their driving habits and not fill up as much.

Californians pay more because the gas costs more to make.

"It's crazy. I mean, it's like I feel like I have to take out a second mortgage to fill up my car," said Harvey Sherifield, a Los Angeles-area driver.

Many drivers are also pulling out their credit cards in order to fill up their tanks.

"Who knows what it's going to be today? This is the first time I've gotten gas since the prices have gone up so much, but it's probably going to be $70," said Los Angeles resident Mikki Kane. "I just don't have that kind of cash."

To add insult to injury, some gas stations and banks limit the amount you can put on one card. With such high prices, that could mean multiple card transactions just to fill up.

With the price of oil above $106 a barrel, President Barack Obama is considering tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The reserve was created in response to the Arab Oil Embargo in the 1970s and has only been used on rare occasions. It was last tapped in September 2008, in response to hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Opening the reserve would add to the supply and possibly help hold down prices, but with no real shortage of oil or gas, some analysts say Obama may be accused of making a political decision if he dips into the reserve.

The reserve contains 727 million barrels of oil.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.