You've seen it. And you've paid it. The price of gasoline is on the rise and unrest in Libya and much of the oil-rich Middle East is only making the situation worse.
The cheapest self-service regular grade in Chatsworth topped out at $3.49 a gallon Thursday, at the Arco station on De Soto Avenue and Plummer Street, according to GasBuddy.com.
Some experts this week have speculated that gas could reach $5 a gallon this summer if the political turmoil spreads and disrupts production.
"If this thing escalates there's a good chance that there'd be a shift in supplies, $5 gas isn't out of the question," Darin Newsom, a senior analyst at energy tracker DTN, told USA Today.
Commuters topping off their tanks in Chatsworth Thursday began to deal with this reality.
Pasha Paran of Moorpark was filling up at the Mobil station on Topanga Boulevard and Lassen Street on his way home from work.
He was the only driver pumping gas there.
When told that the station was listed as the seventh out of 10 Chatsworth gas station charging the highest prices, according to GasBuddy.com, Paran wasn’t surprised.
“I figured as much when I rolled up and the place was empty,” Paran said.
Paran said he can fill up his tank for $32 in Moorpark, but not in Chatsworth.
“We got to get where we have to go,” he said. “We have to go to work and other places. Gas is like food, you have to have it.”
The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County on Thursday rose to its highest amount since Oct. 1, 2008, increasing 2.6 cents to $3.604, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
The 22nd increase in 23 days pushed the average price 10.2 cents higher than a week ago, 24.6 cents above what it was one month ago and 66 cents greater than it was one year ago, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.
Tom, a general contractor from Granada Hills, said with plummeting housing prices and now the increase in gas, he’s seriously considering moving out of California.
“I have to drive back and forth all the time and have to pass the extra expense onto the customers, and they don’t want to pay,” said Tom who didn’t want to give his last name. He was filling up at the Arco station at De Soto and Plummer, where lines of cars stretched into the road. A gallon of regular gas was $3.49—a bargain in Chatsworth.
Further increases are expected because of the rising price of Brent crude oil, which is used to price the imported oil used by California refineries.
The price of a barrel of Brent crude on the ICE Futures exchange in London rose $5.47 Wednesday to $111.25.
The chaos in Libya is among the reasons for increasing crude oil prices, according to analysts.
Crude oil costs account for two-thirds to three-quarters of the price of a gallon of gasoline, according to Tupper Hull, vice president of strategic communications for the Western States Petroleum Association, a trade association representing oil companies in six Western states.
Nicole Cabaccang of Woodland Hills said she didn’t even notice the $3.84 price of gas at the Union 76 station at Topanga Boulevard and Lassen Street.
She had only a quarter of a tank, was on her way to Van Nuys, and figured she better stop and fill up.
“I’ll never come back here again,” Cabaccang said, adding that it cost her $50 to fill her SUV with 12.9 gallons.
Delayne Miller, who works in Van Nuys and lives in Inglewood, said he’ll be driving less and walking or riding his bike more often until prices start coming down.
Miller was filling up a company vehicle at the Union 76 station at Topanga Boulevard and Lassen Street, which was listed as the highest-priced out of 10 stations in Chatsworth, according to GasBuddy.com. On Wednesday, a self-serve gallon cost $3.79, versus $3.84 on Thursday.
He said he didn’t notice the price per gallon; he only knew he was running on fumes.
Across town, Gloria Jimenez said she’s taken up carpooling with family members in getting the children to school.
Jimenez, a Sylmar resident, works in Chatsworth and said gas prices there are lower than where she lives.
“If I can save $2 or $3 that’s fine,” she added.
City News Service contributed to this report.