Gas prices skyrocket across state, North Bay

The price of gasoline is soaring across the North Bay and likely will inch still closer to a record set in 2008 as oil companies scramble to fix problems at several California refineries.

The average price for regular gasoline in Santa Rosa was $4.35 a gallon on Wednesday, up 10 cents from the day before and 20 cents from a week ago.

That's also 50 cents higher than a year ago.

Prices were higher and the spikes even more dramatic at some North Bay stations. At a Chevron on Old Redwood Highway in Windsor, the price of gas on Thursday was $4.63 a gallon, a 24-cent increase from earlier in the week.

"We are in a roller coaster right now and prices will continue to rise," said Cynthia Harris, a spokeswoman for AAA.

Kelly Warrender, a 51-year-old home care provider who lives in Rohnert Park, had visited a client in Windsor on Thursday. With her gas tank nearly empty, she waited until she hit Santa Rosa to fill up her tank, because she noticed prices there were lower.

"It's really difficult, because I commute a lot," Warrender said, adding that she would cut back on non-work trips. "I have noticed that it has gone up. It makes a huge difference."

How much prices will rise is unclear. The highest recorded average for regular gasoline in California was $4.61 a gallon on June 19, 2008, according to AAA. For Santa Rosa, it was $4.55 that day.

The current spikes are being blamed on refinery problems that have limited gasoline supplies in California.

Harris said Exxon Mobile's 150,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Torrance near Los Angeles lost power on Monday, and that a Chevron oil pipeline from Kern County to Bay Area refineries malfunctioned and had to be shut. She said refineries in Rodeo in the East Bay and in Arroyo Grande operated by Phillips 66 are closed for routine maintenance.

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