By Kiet Do


(CBS SF) — Bay Area drivers can anticipate a spike in gas prices after an explosion and fire at a major refinery in Southern California.

A perfect storm is brewing right now for much higher gas prices. The refinery explosion in Torrance Wednesday is basically a one-two punch to consumer’s wallet.

Folks living near the Exxon Mobil refinery said the explosion felt like an earthquake. No on was seriously injured in the blast and the cause is still under investigation.

But consumer watch groups say it’s likely a 10 cent jump in prices overnight and then another 10 cents later because of decreased supply.

In addition, refineries across the state are switching production to the cleaner and more expensive summer blends.

“One of the challenges in California, and especially southern California, is you can’t just bring gasoline from anywhere.” said University of Southern California professor S. Raj Rajagopalan. “We have all kinds of restrictions on type of gasoline we can use.”

To make things worse, the workers’ strike at the Tesoro Refinery in Martinez is entering its 19th day, making it the longest refinery workers strike since 1980.

So between the two shutdowns in Southern and Northern California, the state has lost 17 percent of its production capacity.

Analysts say a mini-spike will likely continue into the spring and not go any higher than $3.50 a gallon.

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