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North Bay fuel less than $6 per gallon nearly obsolete

One expert says that while gas for $7 per gallon may still be in the distant future, even more distant is the possible return of gas for $5 per gallon.|

The thought of paying $6 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is no longer the exception in Sonoma County; it’s essentially the rule.

Few North Bay gas stations, if any, are now charging less than $5.99 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices across the country.

Costco, known for charging some of the lowest gas prices, advertised a gallon for $5.99 as of Thursday. By Friday, it charged $6.09 per gallon.

“It’s not the sanctuary it used to be,” Santa Rosa resident Kendra Brown, 36, said while filling up Thursday at Costco. “Or maybe it is by current standards. It just doesn’t feel like it.”

An upward trend is anticipated for the foreseeable future, said Raymond Sfeir, a professor of economics at Chapman University in Orange. While gas for $7 per gallon may still be in the distant future, even more distant is the possible return of gas for $5 per gallon, he said.

“Yes. For the near future, unfortunately, yes,” Sfeir said. “For now, I don’t see (prices) going down to $5.”

Sonoma County’s average was $6.46 per gallon, putting it among the most expensive counties across the Golden State, according to AAA.

Mono County in east California had the highest county average at $6.96, though that’s likely due to the rural region having fewer pumps and higher prices.

At $5.97 per gallon Thursday, Imperial County in Southern California was the state’s only county with an average price under $6, according to AAA.

According to GasBuddy.com, Santa Rosa gas prices maxed out at $6.87 per gallon at a Chevron station on Cleveland Avenue.

Other Sonoma County cities have it worse than Santa Rosa, however.

In Petaluma, for example, the lowest price for gasoline was $6.25 per gallon. While in Windsor, the lowest price was $6.45 per gallon.

Experts continue to point to the ongoing war in Ukraine as the primary cause of rising gas prices. The conflict has affected the world oil supply and, with that, triggered higher gas prices.

OPEC recently announced it might increase oil production, which could push down gasoline prices, Sfeir said.

“Whether that would happen or not, that is not certain,” he added.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi

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