Fausto Parra's pickup holds a lot of gasoline, so he may have gone more than a day or two between fill-ups. But it seemed to him that the price of a gallon of gas at the Delano station he normally goes to jumped from $3.19 one day to $3.75 the next time he stopped.
"Big change," he said Tuesday afternoon while gassing up at the Arco Station off Merle Haggard Drive.
No kidding. Things in Bakersfield aren't quite as bad as the 18-year-old irrigation worker recalled them being in his home of Delano, but prices are definitely up — and they're not expected to settle back down again soon.
Regular gasoline prices in Bakersfield rose Tuesday by 4 cents to $3.949 per gallon, landing a little more than 5 percent higher than they were a week earlier, according to the AAA. It said the local price average was up 27 cents from a month before, or 7.3 percent.
Recent price increases have been steeper for California as a whole. AAA estimated Tuesday's state average at $4.071, or 12 cents higher than Bakersfield's average. California's price jump during the past month was 5 points bigger than the local surge at more than 12 percent.
Don't blame oil prices. Brent crude, the international benchmark many local oil prices are pegged to, was up Monday less than 1 percent month over month at $58.82 per barrel, according to Oilprice.com. The website says Brent peaked two weeks earlier at $67.68 and has fallen fairly steadily since then.
AAA has attributed the recent gasoline price increases to refinery problems in Northern and Southern California, as well as a drop in fuel imports.
The auto club said Thursday that "unplanned maintenance issues" at Los Angeles County's Chevron and Marathon refineries were the main reason why California's gasoline inventories were down more than one-fifth from the week before, adding that West Coast gas inventories were at their lowest since May.
On top of that, AAA relayed reports from Oil Price Information Service that Southern California had received no imported gasoline during the week prior.
"These factors are continuing the spike that began after the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure" on Sept. 14, the auto club stated, referencing disputed missile and drone attacks on the kingdom's petroleum sites.
AAA spokesman Jeffrey Spring said in a news release there's reason to think gas prices will remain elevated for the near term.
“Prices will likely continue to stay high for a number of days, depending on how quickly local refineries can restart and increase production,” he said. “On top of the refinery problems, California refiners depend on Saudi Arabia for about 20 percent of their oil needs.”
It's worth noting that it pays to shop around. The price-tracking website Gasbuddy.com lists pump prices around Bakersfield and consistently points to big variations from one station to the next.
According to the website, the priciest gasoline in Bakersfield — $4.29 for a gallon — Tuesday was being sold at the Chevron at 2317 L St. Meanwhile, the Fastrip at 805 34th St. was selling gas for $3.55 per gallon, a difference of 74 cents.
Bakersfield College nursing student Victoria Salazar said she's been eating out less and shopping less frequently since noticing the price hikes. The 20-year-old Bakersfield resident doesn't expect to see them come down very soon.
"I feel like it's gonna get higher," she said, "because I don't think it's going to go lower."
Tim Noel, a 59-year-old college maintenance worker living in Porterville, said he doesn't plan to change his habits just to save money on gas.
"About the best you can do is get an electric car or motorcycle," he said. "I'm not interested in either one."