Gas prices jump 9 cents per gallon overnight; CA drivers upset


The Low P gas station in Calabasas had some hefty prices Thursday morning. A gallon of regular was $5.69 for cash-paying customers, and $5.79 with credit. For a gallon of super, the price was $5.89 with cash and $5.99 with credit.

The surge in prices is just not worth it for some gas station owners, because the profit margins are so low. The Low P station had to shut down because buying gas for the station was just too expensive, but it has since reopened.

"I have no business. There is no business here, the market is dead," said Charlie Rahim, who owns Low P. "How am I supposed to come up with $20,000 expenses?"

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was $4.35; Orange County was at $4.33; Inland Empire was at $4.30; and Ventura was at $4.33. All the prices reflected a 9-cent jump from Wednesday and a 14-to-15-cent jump since Tuesday. These prices were from the Auto Club of Southern California.

The soaring prices are apparently unique to California and come as a result of cutback in supply from refinery problems. There was a power failure at Exxon Mobil's Torrance refinery. A Chevron oil pipeline was shut down last month, and a Richmond, Calif. plant is operating at reduced capacity after a fire in August.

Officials at the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance say power has been returned and they're in the process of normalizing operations and minimal impact to productions. They also said they expect to meet all of their contractual agreements.

Drivers, who are used to seeing the prices drop during this time of the year, are really feeling the pain at the pump.

For drivers like Ryan Jaeger from Simi Valley, who depends on gas for work, the burden of this week's price hike is almost too much. Jaeger cleans pools and says he has no choice but to drive a gas-guzzling truck.

"I tried taking like a smaller car, but I just can't fit everything," Jaeger said.

Other drivers are just as frustrated and some are placing the blame on the oil companies.

"Every three months, they announce they make like $3 million in profit, but they don't realize how economy is suffering and how the small businesses are suffering," said one driver.

Many people say the high price of gasoline is forcing them to change their habits. An exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by Survey USA revealed 65 percent of people consider gas prices a major factor to drive to a vacation destination, while 25 percent said they are a minor factor and 10 percent said they were not a factor.

It's only expected to get worse before it gets better. California gas prices may surge even higher for the next few days, and experts say the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded could hit $4.40 by this weekend.

Gas analysts say it is too early to determine if there is truly a shortage of gas or if the hike was just a market response to the refinery problems. Gas prices in Southern California are about 57 cents per gallon higher than the national average.

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