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Gas prices in California now highest in the US

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Noah Berger/AP

(Read caption) Gasoline prices higher than $5 per gallon are posted at a Menlo Park, Calif., Chevron station on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. California gas prices jumped an average 18 cents a gallon overnight with increases predicted through the weekend.

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Gas prices in California surged again Friday – an average 17 cents a gallon – edging out perennial No. 1 Hawaii as the most expensive state for gasoline

While the price hikes are caused by temporary supply problems, they could continue for a few more days, experts suggest. Already, some gas stations are charging more than $5 per gallon and others are closing for lack of fuel.

The economics just aren't worth it. As Patrick DeHaan of GasPriceBuddy.com pointed out Thursday, an 8,000-gallon buy of gasoline that cost $25,840 a week ago, now cost $33,840 (before taxes). Those that do stay open have to keep jacking up the price to cover their costs.

While the national average is at a seasonal record – $3.79 a gallon – Californians on Friday were paying $4.49, according to The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge report.

The high gas prices are caused by a series of problems: a refinery fire, a pipeline shutdown, and a scheduled switchover from a special summer blend to regular blend of gasoline at the end of the month.

The price surge shouldn't last too much longer. Wholesale prices are heading down already. Within a few days, retail prices should start falling as well, but not before gas prices challenge the state record $4.61 set in 2008.

"There's light at the end of the tunnel," writes Mr. DeHaan of GasBuddy.com, a group of local websites that track gasoline prices. "It won't come as fast as I, or anyone else wants it. But it is coming."
 

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