Why are gas prices rising?

Gas prices are on the rise again, creating a pain at the pump for drivers. 

The price per gallon is nearing $6 in some parts of the Bay Area. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular gas is $3.84. In California, it's $5.82 – more than 50 cents more than the average a month ago. 

According to the AP, one of the main reasons why the prices have gone up is because of Saudi Arabia's decision to cut back on the amount of oil it sends to global markets. It's been slashing production since July and will extend the cut through the end of the year, potentially pushing prices even higher. 

But that's just one piece of the puzzle.  

"A lot of that has to do with the extenuating circumstances this year, refinery issues that have been hitting for most of the country in late August. Coupled with the fact that oil prices are at their highest level since November of last year, has kind of created this unique peak in the fall that we tend to see in the summer months," said Patrick de Haan, head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy.

On Friday, California's director of the new Division of Petroleum Market Oversight released his own list of reasons why the prices are so high. In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, Tai Milder put some of the blame on a single, isolated trade on California's spot market, the internal market where gas is sold in bulk. He said the transaction on September 15 caused the price per gallon to rise by nearly 50 cents and likely cost Californians millions of dollars at the pump. 

Milder also criticized refiners for not maintaining enough inventory during refinery outages due to maintenance. That undersupply also helped push prices up. 

For many in the Bay Area, the rise in gas prices is shocking, but not surprising.

"Unfortunately it’s just kind of a way of life nowadays where there aren’t even surprises anymore, the gas prices are constantly going up. And I just kind of expect to come to the car wash and spend like $90 or $100 to fill up my car," said Kabril Lucas of Walnut Creek. 

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According to AAA, there are five Bay Area counties with the most expensive gas on average; San Mateo, San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and Napa. Solano County currently has the cheapest gas on average.

Cindy Dantono of Oakley said it costs $80 to fill up her tank. But she is living off of social security and a part-time job, so she can't afford to fill it up all the time. 

"I’m right now just going to put in $18 because that’s all I have right now. So it gets me back and forth to work," said Dantono.

The high prices have drivers readjusting their budgets, and rethinking how far they're willing to drive. Some are also considering leaving the state.  

"(It's) probably one of the most expensive places to live in the world now. And with gas prices and everything else always costing a lot of money, it’s just starting to be taxing on us," said Lucas.