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Shock at the pumps!
• $5.37 per gallon is Ceres’ highest gasoline price
Gas prices $5
Gas prices have reached record levels above $5 per gallon in Ceres and elsewhere in the state in the past week. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The shock waves from the Russian invasion of the Ukraine have sent gas prices to record highs in Ceres.

Prices have breached the $5 per gallon mark in a big way reaching a high of $5.39 Monday at the Triple R station on Whitmore Avenue.

The Chevron station on Mitchell Road posted a price of $5.37 on Monday. The AM/PM station at Mitchell  and Mitchell roads had the cheapest gas price in town yesterday at $4.89 a gallon, with most stations in Ceres ranging in price from $4.89 to $5.39 a gallon.

The average gas price in California yesterday was $5.28 per gallon, up from $4.87 a gallon on Wednesday, March 2 while nationally it was at $3.61 a gallon. The national average is up 26 percent since February and over $1 in the past year.

The surge in price pumps couldn’t have come at a worse time for California motorists. March is when the state’s refineries start switching over to a summer blend of reformulated gas that produces less emissions. Not only is “summer” gas more expensive to refine but the switch often involves a refinery going off line for a day or so. Typically, motorists will see as much as a dime jump in prices.

Experts are anticipating around a $1 a gallon boost in gas prices as the result on the war in the Ukraine.

That means gas at some urban locations could shoot up as high as $6 a gallon in the coming weeks.

Republicans in the state Legislature are pushing for the state for a six-month gas tax holiday since the state has a budget surplus to provide relief to California motorists. Assembly Bill 1638 would get rid of the 51.1 cent tax per gallon altogether for six months. But some Democrats are pulling back the reins on that request.

“If we’re gonna halt the gas tax, we just want to make sure that we have a sense of what that means to our state into our economy,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

The United States is the world’s largest oil producer but it still imports oil from Russia. In 2021 the United States imported 209,000 barrels of crude oil a day or 3 percent of the nation’s consumption.

Part of the reason why prices in the United States are being hit hard — especially in California — has to do with the supply line for crude oil to refineries.

It is especially stark in California where in 2020 — based on California Energy Commission data — 47.54 percent of the crude oil used in the state came from foreign sources, 34.9 percent from California oil fields, and 17.6 percent from Alaska.

California is the seventh largest oil producing state in the country at 144 million barrels in 2020 after Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Alaska in that order.

There are 10 refineries in California that produce gasoline for vehicles. The state’s air quality rules make it less expensive to refine cleaner burning light crude that typically comes from areas such as the Middle East.

The increase in gas prices will create a windfall for cities, counties and the states.

The $1 increase at Chevron means drivers are paying 8.25 cents more in sales tax.