SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — One driver in Santa Monica says she couldn’t believe how much she was paying for gas.

According to Triple A, gas prices have risen for 19 straight days in L.A. County and are now the highest they’ve been since January 2016, averaging $2.97 a gallon.

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According to a consumer advocate, one of the main reasons is that Southern California refineries are selling gas to Mexico.

“In California this is something that happens every once in a while but when they do it, it really messes with our prices,” Cody Rosenfield said.

Rosenfield says since Mexico’s demand is so high right now, that’s where refineries see the money.

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“Even if they’re getting paid less by selling in Mexico, it raises the prices so much in the United States and California that they make a fortune.” Rosenfield said.

But the Western States Petroleum Association blames market conditions saying: “Recent changes in gasoline prices, while concerning for consumers are consistent with the increased volatility that has been part of California fuel markets for the past several years.”

Driver Christopher Rand says fuel prices here are cheap to him.

“I’ve lived out east and I’ve lived in Canada where it’s way more,” Rand said. “So to me all this seems pretty cheap.”

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Triple A says if the current rate of price increases stays the same we could see $3 a gallon by the end of this week