What the Heck is Up With These Gas Prices?

'Up' being the operative word. What's behind the steep overnight price hikes?

If you're like me, when you drove past the first gas station on your route Thursday morning, you blinked and rubbed your eyes, thinking, "I must be hallucinating."

Unfortunately, we weren't - gas prices really did go up an average of 20 cents per gallon from Wednesday night to Thursday morning. Since Thursday, prices are now up nearly 50 cents per gallon, and are teetering dangerously on the edge of $5 a gallon.

So, what's behind it?

After watching CNN religiously over the past few days and doing hours of online research, trying to find some sort of explanation, I've come across two possible explanations.

1) The quietest oil refinery fire in history - It's astounding to me how little news coverage an oil refinery fire in Baytown, Texas (east of Houston) that took place last Wednesday, Oct. 3 is receiving. The refinery - one of Exxon Mobil's - is reportedly one of the largest in the world, and certainly the nation, pumping out more than 500,000 barrels of oil per day. It took firefighters three-and-a-half hours to extinguish the blaze. 

Reuters reports that, between "Middle East tensions" and the Texas refinery fire, gas prices and oil futures jumped 4 percent overnight. (But, come on - when are there NOT "Middle East tensions?")

2) California and it's 'special blends' - As my East Coast-raised husband likes to say, gas prices are nuts around here because of California "and all it's silly special blends." According to reports by CNN, many gas stations across the state are actually running out of gasoline, as California works to switch production over to its mandatory-by-law "winter blend."

CNN reporter Paul Vercammen said Friday, "If refineries could convert to winter grade fuel sooner - which costs a lot less to produce than the environmentally friendly summer-grade fuel - the prices could be a lot cheaper. But a waiver from the Air Quality Control Board is required. Until then, it's tough times here in California."

Why does California need so many different seasonal blends, when most other states across the country don't feel the need? Seasonal blends....really, is it gas, or Starbucks coffee?

PATCH WANTS TO KNOW - Do you buy into these reasons? Or do you think the sudden price spike is due to something else? How are you easing the pain at the pump these days? Tell us in the comments below.


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Cindy Abbott October 07, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Love that a Prius ad is at the bottom of this story. So glad I drive a hybrid that regularly gets 47 mpg and is good for the environment.
john currie October 07, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I remember watching Nancy Pelosi standing at the mic.... screatching that she wouldnt stop until GAS was FIVE DOLLARS a gallon, in her plan to fundimentally change the driving habits of Americans.. No summer vacation for you... No trip to grannies house... work cost for me have risen more than four times what it was three years ago...REMEMBER...........$1.81.........GAS WAS ONE DOLLLAR AND EIGHTY ONE CENTS when Mr. Obama took over "ruling" this country... $1.81 a gallon.. guess the liberal demicratic party got its way on this one! $5.00 dollars a gallon.. thanks Nancy!
Erika Rigling October 07, 2012 at 06:43 PM
go a little deeper....WHO benefits by the gas going up during the Democratic administration? Perhaps it's not foreign operatives.... Always follow the money!!!!!!
Alyssa Jenkins October 07, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Gas prices four years ago were $3.60/gallon in CA. Adjusted for inflation, that's approximately $3.80 in 2012 dollars. Yes, $4.75 is nearly $1/gallon above that figure, but it is within reason that that dollar/gallon is related to refinery fires, distribution difficulties, Middle East tensions, etc. I'm sorry this doesn't fit with your theories about Dems crushing the economy. Sources: http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2008/10/gas-prices.html http://www.westegg.com/inflation/infl.cgi
Jo Tog October 08, 2012 at 04:29 AM
EPA. California Cap and Trade, and yes the Democrats are causing gas prices to be so high.


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