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Sonoma County drivers very likely may be paying record high prices for gas.

AAA on Friday reported that its price survey on Thursday showed the average price for regular in the Santa Rosa area was $4.513 a gallon — just 4 cents shy of the record of $4.55 set on June 19, 2008. With many stations having raised their prices since Thursday, it seems reasonable that the average has gone over $4.55. For example, Costco in Santa Rosa was $4.27 on Friday, up 18 cents from Thursday’s $4.09.

Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for gasbuddy.com, said “it’s certainly possible” that Santa Rosa’s price will break the record if it hasn’t already.

He offered some hope for drivers, saying price increases “will start slowing down over the weekend” before leveling off over two weeks to a statewide average of $4.60 to $4.80. It was $4.486 on Thursday — the highest in the nation.

“Prices go up faster than they go down,” he acknowledged.

“It’ll take a long time for them to drop to where they were a week ago,” he said.

Thursday’s $4.513 average in Santa Rosa was 16.1 cents more than Wednesday’s $4.352. A week ago, the average was $4.145. A year ago, it was $3.845.

Among the metro areas surveyed daily by AAA, San Francisco had Thursday’s highest average at $4.596, while Modesto was the lowest at $4.311.

The statewide average of $4.486 beat even Hawaii, which is typically the highest and which was only $4.414 on Thursday. South Carolina had the national low at $3.485.

The California price spike is blamed by analysts on a drop in gas production caused by a power failure Monday at Exxon Mobile’s 150,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Torrance near Los Angeles — it had resumed full operations by Friday; an Aug. 6 fire that cut production at Chevron’s Richmond refinery; maintenance closure of Phillps 66 refineries in Rodeo in the East Bay and in Arroyo Grande; and the shutting of a Chevron oil pipeline from Kern County to Bay Area refineries.

In Sonoma County, prices at some stations are nearing $5 a gallon. At the Stewarts Point Store on Highway 1, it was $4.99, and “it’s going up,” a clerk said.

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