BERKELEY (CBS13) – Experts have been crunching the numbers, asking why California gas prices are spiking up to over $4 dollars a gallon.

As it turns out, a hidden surcharge is adding insult to injury at the pump.

It all started in 2015, when a refinery explosion in Torrance caused what was supposed to be a temporary spike in gas prices.

Instead, that spike stuck around.

“Starting in 2015, they were about 40 cents above where you would expect them to be in 2015. And in 2016, ’17, and ’18, they were between 25 and 30 cents higher than what you would expect,” UC Berkeley professor Severin Borenstein told CBS San Francisco.

Borenstein estimates that since 2015, each California driver has spent about $500 on the mystery surcharges, which amounts to $11 million per day, and $4 billion per year.

“In total, that amounts to paying an extra $20 billion in gasoline since February 2015,” Borenstein said.

Experts say all those billions of dollars that are unaccounted for, are likely going back into the supply chain: the refineries, the pipeline owners and retailers.

But, it’s impossible to know exactly where, until there is a formal investigation.

As of Thursday now, the state’s average is at nearly $4.02. Sacramento’s average is up to $3.93, Stockton is at $3.92, and Modesto sits at $3.88.



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