How high will they go?

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By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

California's have increased 17 percent during the past month - and Crescent City's prices remain among the state's highest.

andquot;If the cost of any other products and services we rely on changed this much, it would make it extremely difficult to keep your family budget under control,andquot; Sean Comey, AAA Northern California spokesman, said.

The statewide average price for one gallon of regular unleaded gas is $3.11 a gallon, up 45 cents per gallon since the fuel survey released Feb. 13, AAA of Northern California reports.

The average price in Crescent City of regular unleaded was $3.24 a gallon on Friday. The highest price was $3.30.

California's highest average gas price is in San Francisco, which also has the highest average price for gas in the nation $3.32.

AAA cited production problems, rising costs of raw materials, high demand and andquot;robustandquot; profits. In its last report, it targeted refinery shut-downs as they switch to a different blend of lower-pollution fuel for summer sales.

andquot;According to the California Energy Commission, there have been problems with the turnaround process at some refineriesandquot; the AAA report stated. The problems have reduced the supply of gasoline.

The result is that the available supply of gas statewide is below what is typical this time of year.

The cost of crude oil is higher, and

financial speculation andquot;appearsandquot; to be playing a role in rising oil prices, AAA stated.

The nation's lowest price is in Anchorage, Alaska, at $2.28 on average for unleaded gas.

The lowest price in Northern California cities AAA tracks is in Chico, at $3.04 per gallon.

Crescent City prices

?Lowest: $3.22

?Average: $3.24

?Highest: $3.30

Regional gas prices

?Eureka: $3.25, up 44 cents

?Yreka: $3.24, up 34 cents

?Brookings: $2.80, up 38 cents

SOURCE: AAA of Northern California

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