It was nice while it lasted.

Gas prices in Santa Rosa, and across the state, have been rocketing toward $4 a gallon, and analysts say they may even near the record high, set just last fall.

On Wednesday, AAA reported that the average for regular was $3.864 a gallon in Santa Rosa, up a couple of cents from the day before, up nearly 20 cents  in the past week and up nearly 30 cents in the past month. A year ago, it was $3.745. The record is $4.65 on Oct. 9.

Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for, blames the price surge on several factors:

–Refineries around the state and nation are reducing production to get rid of their stocks of winter blend gas.

–That drop in production has translated into higher wholesales prices, thus higher at-the-pump prices.

–Expectations of even tighter gas supplies as refineries start undergoing maintenance in anticipation of producing summer blend gas by May 1.

Laskoski says a federal Energy Department report out Wednesday shows refineries in California and West Coast states are operating at the lowest capacity of any region in the U.S. at 75.3 percent. The national average is 84 percent.

He says is projecting prices in the San Francisco area will hit $4.25 to $4.60 a gallon  before peaking in April or May. The current price increases should slow between now and then, he says. Of course, this is all barring some Mideast or other world crisis.

The only other region of the country where prices are climbing so fast is the Great Lakes, he says. Chicago’s average price also has soared 20 cents in the past week to $3.975. listed a handful of stations in Santa Rosa as the area’s cheapest at $3.71 with a few stations at almost $4 and one — Chevron on Airport Boulevard, which typically is high — at $4.09.

AAA reported Modesto had the lowest average price at $3.709 and L.A. the highest at $4.058. The state average was $3.957.

Wyoming had Wednesday’s cheapest average at $2.97, while Hawaii had the most expensive at $4.156.


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