(CBS SF) – Average gas prices in the Bay Area have skyrocketed in the past month, jumping by 51 cents to $4.41 per gallon, according to a report released this week by AAA.

The increase in local gas prices outpaces the jump in average prices nationwide; AAA officials said that across the country, gas prices rose by 30 cents, to $3.81 per gallon, from February to March.

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The region’s average gas price is slightly higher than the state’s, which is $4.36 per gallon.

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AAA officials, who monitor the prices as a service to consumers, have said increased buying activity by investors in oil and gas futures and political tensions with Iran have pushed prices upward.

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San Francisco is among the cities with the highest average prices in the Bay Area at $4.43 per gallon, while Vallejo is among the lowest in the region at $4.31, according to AAA.

The high prices come despite dropping demand for oil—a U.S.

Department of Energy report released last week found that the nation was using 8.36 million barrels a day, the lowest rate since March 2001.

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