Get ready for gas at $4 a gallon in the Bay Area [Mercury News]

April 09– Apr. 9–Two workers at the Shell gas station on Hamilton Avenue in West San Jose scurried over to the big sign on the corner listing prices last weekend, with new disturbing numbers in hand. Soon the $3.65 sign was $3.85.

Twenty cents in one day, bringing the state average to $3.80 a gallon with more increases inbound. Experts say $4 a gallon could be coming by Memorial Day, the first time since 2014 pump prices have reached that frustrating and sure-to-get-noticed figure.

That’s a whopping 29 cents more than in Hawaii, which almost always has the most expensive fuel.

“I think we’re going to see a really big spike in gasoline prices,” said Michael Blasky of the state automotive association, noting that prices jumped 19 cents last week and 50 cents over the last month.

Patrick DeHaan of GasBuddy, said, “I wouldn’t say this will be normal all year, but it will be something that sticks around at least a few weeks or as long as two months.”

The national average hit $2.74 a gallon on Monday, ending weeks where prices across the U.S. flirted around the $2 mark. On Monday, it was $3 89 a gallon in Los Angeles and San Francisco, $3.81 in San Jose, $3.80 Oakland and $3.68 in Santa Cruz,

The all-time single-day California record is $4.11 a gallon, set on July 11, 2012.

Reasons are what we’ve heard before. Refinery problems in the city of Carson in Los Angeles County have cut production 2 percent, the conversion to the more expensive blend of summer gas, maintenance work and the start of the spring and summer driving seasons. Oh, yes, toss in the recent 12-cent a gallon gas tax and more SUVs on the road and we’re knocking at the four buck mark.

Gasoline inventories fell nearly 2 million barrels last week.

The national average price of gasoline is up for the eighth straight week, rising 4.8 cents to stand at $2.74 per gallon, the highest level in 149 days, That will cost Americans nearly $200 million more at the pump today than back in early January.

Could it go higher? You bet, Los Angeles and San Francisco may see prices swell to $4.15.

Mike Diaz paid $3.45 at an ARCO in Richmond last week. On Sunday, he forked over $3.59.

“Good thing I have a hybrid,” he said. “It still hurts.”

Many states are dealing with similar supply and demand issues due to refinery problems, such as Arizona which gets fuel from Gulf Coast and Southern California refineries. In Phoenix, drivers were experiencing significant fuel shortages due to refinery production delays, with some reports of stations completely running out of fuel.

“It really is going to be ugly on the West Coast,” said DeHaan, adding that there is “little good news on the horizon.”

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