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Gas prices march toward 4-year high

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Gas prices in California are expected to climb as the summer months approach, although Bay Area drivers are already paying gas prices slightly higher than statewide average prices, AAA officials said today.

The average price for gas in the Bay Area this month is $3.50, while the statewide average for March is $3.47, according to the association.

Because of record travel numbers across the U.S., especially on the west coast, AAA officials are predicting statewide average gas prices to rise between $3.60 and $3.80 by Memorial Day, May 28.

Californians haven’t seen gas prices this high in four years, when the state average price was more than $4 between March and August of 2014.

AAA Northern California spokesman Michael Blasky said in a statement:

“Demand for gasoline this March was very strong, closer to the demand AAA typically sees during the summer. … If demand stays strong, the price of fuel is likely to keep rising.”

A strong economy and rising consumer confidence is the reason for the higher-than-normal demand.

Prices are also rising because of refinery maintenance season when oil refineries normally slow down production as they change from the winter blend of gas to the summer blend.

Summer gas is typically more refined and better for the environment but more costly, AAA officials said.

The national average gas price for this month is $2.61.

Average gas prices in Bay Area cities are as follows: San Francisco at $3.64, San Jose at $3.48, Oakland at $3.48, San Mateo at $3.49, San Rafael at $3.48, Vallejo at $3.37, Santa Rosa at $3.47 and Concord at $3.39, according to AAA.

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