Refining problems at half a dozen California refineries helped push the average price of unleaded gasoline in Bakersfield up 3 cents Monday, raising it to $3.57 per gallon, an increase of 13 cents in the past week.
That one-week, 3.8 percent jump makes a $3 difference when filling up a 23-gallon tank in a 2019 Ford F-150. It's $4.68 for the 36-gallon model.
The overnight price increase coincided with a switch to California's summer fuel blend, which affects much of Southern California and the eastern half of Kern. The county's western half isn't scheduled to transition to the newer blend until May 1.
Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California, said the summer fuel transition does raise prices but that it should have had its full effect prior to Monday. He said the overnight increase probably resulted more from recent or ongoing disruptions at four refineries in Southern California and two others in Northern California.
"Most of (the state's driving fuel refiners) have been processing this (summer blend) and getting it in the pipeline because they have to be in the retail pump today," he said Monday, adding it is unusual to have six California refineries experiencing problems at the same time.
A surge in oil prices also contributed to the price increase, Spring said. Brent crude, the global benchmark Kern oil prices track, was trading at about $69.30 per barrel Monday, up about 3.7 percent from a week earlier.
A month ago, a gallon of unleaded in Bakersfield was selling for an average of $3.28, meaning the price has gone up almost 9 percent in about four weeks since then. A year ago, the city's average was $3.43 per gallon, according to the auto club.
The auto club reported California has the nation's highest average gasoline price, at $3.61 per gallon.
Henry Garcia, a contract worker for Southern California Gas Co., said he hadn't noticed prices increasing lately. The Bakersfield resident drives about 15 miles a day to and from his job just north of town. He figures gas prices are only going to keep rising.
"You just get used to it," he said. "What can you do?"
Vineyard worker Martin Santos did notice gasoline's recent rise. He drives 60 miles every weekday for work, round trip, and said increasing gas prices can make the difference between going out for dinner and staying home.
"It's bad," he said. "I hope (prices) stabilize or lower."