Gas prices hit Valley consumers at the pump

FRESNO, Calif.

On Thursday the average price for regular unleaded in the Fresno area was $4.26 a gallon.

It spiked a whopping 14 cents in 24 hours to $4.40 a gallon on Friday.

Nobody's happy about this sudden surge. Prices jumped about 20 cents a gallon overnight. The average in Fresno is $4.51 a gallon for regular. The highest prices is $4.79 a gallon.

The industry says prices are high because refinery problems across the state have reduced the available supply to the lowest level in ten years.

Whatever the reasons, drivers are upset.

"Gassing up certainly ain't what it used to be, folks are hankering for the good old days," Nou Thao of Fresno said. "Oh it's ridiculous, getting too high they need to go back to three dollars. "

Or even back to yesterday's prices about 20 cents a gallon lower than todays.

"We have 6 weeks now of setting new all-time daily high prices," Avery Ash of AAA said.

Fresno drivers can complain about $4.69 a gallon at , but some stations in Southern California are over five bucks a gallon.

Fresno area drivers are looking for the cheapest gas. That's meant long lines at Arco stations, owned by Valero, which were at $4.49 a gallon, 20 cents a gallon cheaper than some of the competition. Valero spokesman Bill Day spoke to Action News by phone from San Antonio. He said the high prices caused by other companies refinery problems are not good for retailers, but do give his company a boost.

"Nobody likes it when prices go up especially when they go up this rapidly its not good for anybody but it is a chance for Valero to differentiate itself by being a very competitive retailers," Day said.

But even the bargain prices are too high and drivers are complaining.

"Especially me, I'm in schools so when I come home you know what I mean it's a hundred bucks every time just coming home definitely makes me see my family a lot less," Garrett Borba of Stockton said.

"Yeah I mean we're going on a trip up to Mountain View and it's definitely going to take a big chunk out of my paycheck," Nick Galcia of Visalia said.

Nationwide gas is $3.79 a gallon. And it's not about domestic supply because U.S. refineries are actually exporting more gasoline overseas than ever before.

Most retailers are actually hoping for a price drop because their profits don't go up when prices climb, they just get less business.

This is supposed to be a temporary increase, but we could see five dollars a gallon in Fresno before it's over.

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