By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

Gas prices jumped as much as 20 cents per gallon today in Crescent City and throughout the state.

The price hike follows a jump in crude oil prices of about 30 cents per barrel, but according to a CNN Moneyline Web site, the increased crude oil prices caused only a three- to four-cent increase per gallon of gasoline.

Prices spiked most at Chevron and Texaco stations in Northern California, according to sign comparisons along Hwy. 101 and research done by Del Norte County Supervisor Chuck Blackburn.

He said Chevron and Texaco posted record profits in 2002 and 2003 because the affiliated companies have been gouging Californians.

andquot;I look at it as a complete rip-off. You can't tell me that someone is not making a huge killing on this,andquot; Blackburn said yesterday as he watched roadside price signs at a local Chevron station flip from about $2.05 per gallon for the cheapest grade of unleaded to $2.25 per gallon.

Next door to Chevron on Highway 101, north of Crescent City, prices at the Gas 4 Less station went from $1.99 per gallon of cheapest grade unleaded to $2.05 per gallon.

According to the CNN Web site, crude oil prices rose an average of 14 percent over last year.

But Blackburn said that does not account for the andquot;ridiculousandquot; prices in California versus other states.

andquot;In Honolulu, it's $1.96, in Dallas, it's $1.48, and $1.60 in Nevada. You look at those kinds of prices, and you come to California and get ripped,andquot; he said.

Blackburn did say that California's special taxes on gas in addition to the cost of gas additives required in California to decrease emissions should make this state's gas about 45 cents more than other states, but tacking on another 20 to 25 cents is not fair to the common worker, he said.

He was careful not to blame the independent station owners for the price hike, however. Blackburn said Chevron station owners, such as Crescent City's Joe Duncan, are tied into contracts with the behemoth company and are charged the extra prices to get their local supply tanks filled.

Duncan said last year that the price increase must be passed to the customer so that he can make a living.