Manteca area motorists and commuters were lining up at gas stations Friday afternoon fearing that the price per gallon might escalate to as much as $6 a gallon sometime in the next week.
While a number of gas stations in Southern California had topped $5 a gallon Friday and others stopped selling fuel some in Manteca had reached $4.69 a gallon for unleaded regular and $4.89 for supreme. That represents a 50 cent price jump in a week. The lowest prices were found at Costco and at a Quik Stop convenience store/gas station on Louise Avenue at Union Road.
David Manley had pulled up to a pump at the Super Stop station on North Main Street at North Street in mid-afternoon to put a few gallons in his tank.
“Look at the prices – that’s ridiculous. I just drive to Lathrop and back but it’s eating up more than it used to,” he said. “With the presidential race I thought they would go down. With prices like this it makes you want to get a motorcycle.”
Nicole Farmanian, a single mother and a fast food worker agreed, “I think it’s crazy for me trying to afford these prices,” she added. “Maybe I will have to start walking to work or decide to ride a bike.”
Experts are blaming the soaring prices on a number of things converging: reduced capacity at the Richmond Chevron refinery due to the August fire, a Southern California refinery that went off line due to a power outage a pipeline problem that shut off gas shipments to the north state, and planned maintenance at another refinery.
Commuter Joe Lopez was filling his tank at the Quik Stop station on Louise Avenue at Union Road an hour later. He drives to Atwater in Merced County every day in his late model KIA showing similar frustration with the constantly increasing cost of fuel.
“I usually pump at Chevron across the street,” he said, “but look over there at their price of $4.65 for unleaded compared to $4.17 here.”
Bob Nunes was at the next pump saying it is all being explained because a refinery in Southern California shut down raising the prices for the consumer.
“I’m a high school official on my way to a game. I’ve got to get it while it’s cheap. I called my wife and son and told them to fill up before the weekend and probably (before prices hit) $6 a gallon,” he quipped.
A Criminal Justice college major at Delta, Michael Kachalkin, said the Quik Stop is the best station in town for price next to Costco. “Unfortunately I have to put 91 octane in my car to make it run right,” he said, driving it seven days a week to school and to assignments in his armed security guard position.
“This gas pricing is affecting everybody’s lives,” he chided. “It’s becoming a lot for a college student – wondering if I need to slow down on school and work more to pay for the gas in the car.”
Billy Rogers, a health care administrator without work, drove his van up to the pumps on Louise Avenue alongside the other men filling up their tanks.
“I’m unemployed right now and this doesn’t help. I think it’s very unfair when four years ago, when Obama took office, gas was selling at $1.85 a gallon.
The clerk at Quik Stop said their $4.17 a gallon price for unleaded would probably take a jump later during the evening hours.
Another motorist chimed in saying he didn’t understand the validity of the pricing when the value of crude oil had declined recently.