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Refinery struggles lead to high gas prices in Phoenix

Gas prices have skyrocketed recently in parts of the state, with some pumps seeing about $5 a gallon.

The difference could be well over a dollar per gallon depending on your county. 

The current average price in Maricopa County is about $4.80 a gallon. But those in Pima County are seeing an average of about $3.44 per gallon. 

There are two major gas terminals in Arizona: one in Phoenix and one in Tucson. Phoenix-bound gas comes from California, and Tucson’s originates in El Paso, Texas.

Arizona State University economist Dennis Hoffman says the blame for higher prices in some parts is due to refineries being closed. 

“It’s kinda like a perfect storm of scheduled maintenance shutdowns with a few of them, they had fires at others, and they’re having flare up challenges with still others.” Hoffman said. 

Beyond that the technology is old. 

“There has not been a significantly sized refiner, there's been a lot of small ones, but there’s not been one of any consequence constructed since the '70s.” Hoffman said. 

Hoffman added while gas drilling could quickly expand in the country, there is little interest in the private sector to build more refineries to develop gasoline. That is due to the interest in electric vehicles. 

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.