Driving by gas stations in Larkspur and Corte Madera looking for a cheep price? That's going to be harder to find this week after gas prices spiked by as much as 30 cents at some stations after a fire forced the shutdown of an Exxon refinery in Torrance on Monday.
The refinery, which produces 150,000 barrels of gas a day during regular production, lost power Monday and was forced to shut down a pipeline that supplies crude oil to Bay Area refineries.
"Whenever there's the perception of less of a supply of gas, prices go up," said Cynthia Harris of AAA.
Adding to pain at the pump, according to Harris, is the fact that the Chevron refinery in Richmond is not yet back at full speed after a fire in August. A report by Bloomberg said the Rodeo refinery is expecting to continue repairs this week.
Harris expects that the dramatic increase in gas prices will be temporary and they should settle down within the next week or two. In the meantime, expect similar or even higher prices this weekend.
On the news of the Torrance refinery shutdown, wholesale gas prices jumped 30 cents overnight. Prices for crude oil, however, are hovering just below $90, a drop from earlier this year.
"Gas is cheaper to produce and purchase normally at this time of year. We're getting into our winter mix," Harris said. "It's a little unusual to pay so much. We tend to pay less for gas at this time of year. But in the end, it's the traders who determine the price."