Santa Barbara drivers have already noticed what GasBuddy recently confirmed: Gasoline prices just took their most aggressive price hike ever. Attributing the price spike to the Exxon refinery explosion in Torrance on February 18 as well as the United Steelworker strike that started in early February at refineries in seven states — including Tesoro’s in Carson, California — the information-sharing site charts California’s price rising by about a dollar over the past month. In Santa Barbara, the price per gallon is currently about $3.50.
Looking at large metropolitan areas, GasBuddy measured a 19.6 cent price-per-gallon leap in Los Angeles on February 27, the largest single-day jump since October 5, 2012, when it rose 19.5 cents. In the Bay Area, the price spiked more than 20 cents, overtaking the last great leap of 18.8 cents on January 28, 2008.
Though an increase in price occurs during the transition from gasoline’s “winter blend” to its “summer blend,” this year’s leap is particularly dramatic. GasBuddy also attributes the statewide surge in part to wholesale prices that rose about 90 cents in February. Safety issues at refineries from an over-reliance on nonunion contract workers are cited as a cause of the refinery strikes, called when negotiations broke down over union employment, benefits, and wage increases, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to note the 90-cent wholesale price rose over the month of February.