No relief in sight for gas prices in San Francisco

Gas prices have been dropping the past few days in some parts of Northern California. San Francisco is not one of them.

The City has seen a 3-cent per-gallon increase since last month for an average of $3.94. The average price has gone up 66 cents per gallon since this time last year, according to a numbers released by the Northern California region of AAA.

Click the picture at right for a comparison of Bay Area gas prices.

Prices rose in most parts of the state, according to AAA, but weaker demand is pushing prices lower in some cities. AAA attributes San Francisco’s rise in price to a combination of the higher cost of living and a relatively more-expensive seasonal refinement process.

The nationwide average gas price is $3.65, up 1 cent over last month, and the Bay Area price is $3.88, up 2 cents from July. The statewide average price of $3.78 is unchanged from last month, but it’s up 61 cents since August 2010.

Cynthia Harris, spokeswoman for AAA, said the high cost of living in San Francisco sometimes prevents gas prices from dropping, even with a decline in demand for crude oil.

“There is more of an expense here for infrastructure,” Harris said. “Stations also might have to pay their employees more.”

Also, additives are mixed into fuel in the summer months to prevent evaporation during warmer weather, thus raising the cost of refinement.

“Historically, regardless of what’s happening, prices tend to drop during the fall,” Harris said.

AAA’s Matt Skryja, who generated the gas price report, said declining prices should be felt at local gas stations soon.

“Consumer relief at the pump often lags behind any declines in crude prices, as cheaper oil works its way through the refining and distribution process,” Skryja said.

The least-expensive average gas price in Northern California is in Marysville, at $3.64 per gallon. Yreka’s $4 per-gallon cost is the region’s highest. California is tied with Maine for eighth out of 50 for highest prices nationwide.

The nation’s least-expensive gas can be found for $3.26 in Peoria, Ariz., and the most-expensive fuel is in Wailuku, Hawaii, at $4.39 per gallon. The national average this time last year was $2.77.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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