Californians living in the San Francisco Bay Area got the shock of their lives as gas prices hit the $5 per gallon mark amid the shutdown of oil refineries in northern California.

San Francisco news channel KPIX 5 reported that gas prices per liter surpassed the previous highest price of $4.85 a gallon. Some areas had $5 per gallon on their pumps, with Humboldt Country reporting an average price of $4.97 per gallon on Nov. 15.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), heavy rainstorms in northern California are to blame for the limited gas production. The limited production capacity then triggered prices of available fuel to rise in southern California.

Jeffrey Spring, corporate communications manager of the AAA-affiliated Automobile Club of Southern California, acknowledged the supply shortage. “It’s a bit of a supply crunch we have right now. There’s nothing major, until the refineries in northern California can get back up to full production capacity,” he said.

Spring added: “What’s happening up in the Bay Area indicates that maybe, we’re at the top of [these] price increases, barring any other issues. So we’re hoping by the end of the year that things will start heading downward.”

Meanwhile, AAA Communications and Programs Manager Doug Shupe said that while Californians are used to paying more for gas, pump prices have been much higher as of late.

“Drivers are paying $1.50 more per gallon than a year ago,” he said. “A person who has the typical mid-size sedan with a 14-gallon size fuel tank [is] paying $21 more to fill up that tank today than last year.” 

Given the rising gas prices, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) called for immediate action to avoid any further increases in the prices of fuel. She said during a Nov. 14 interview: “The media price [of gas] is $4 and in many places, it’s $5. I know the oil industry said that one of the reasons for the increase in price was because they had to slow down production … [due to] some maintenance. We have got to reduce the price of gas in California.”

Fuel prices rise worldwide

The rising gas prices in the Bay Area came as the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed the highest inflation rate in three decades. Daily Mail report said the CPI climbed by 6.2 percent, the highest since November 1990. Furthermore, the CPI showed fuel prices in October 2021 climbing by 59 percent compared to the same period last year.

However, the U.S. is not the only country reporting higher fuel prices. The United Kingdom has also reported spikes in pump prices. 

Data from British automotive services company RAC Limited found that the average price of unleaded gasoline fuel in the U.K. is now £1.40 ($1.88) per liter, the highest since September 2012. RAC pointed out that the current price was a jump of almost £0.26 (35 cents) from the earlier £1.15 ($1.55) per liter price recorded on October 15, 2020.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said that the rise in fuel prices is a “huge concern at a time when households and businesses are facing spiraling prices.” Williams said: “Our data shows we haven’t seen the price [for gasoline fuel] at this sort of level since September 2012, and we’re not worryingly close to the all-time average U.K. price high of £1.42 [$1.91] that was hit in the same year.”

The U.K.’s Automobile Association (AA) also pointed to increases in diesel fuel prices. As per its figures, the average price of diesel fuel is at £1.43 ($1.92) per liter. AA fuel price spokesman Luke Bosdet said the group expressed “particular concern about where diesel is going” after its wholesale price increased by £0.10 (13 cents) since the middle of September.

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