A major fire at one of the country’s biggest oil refineries that sent scores of people to hospitals with breathing problems will push gas prices above $4 a gallon on the West Coast, analysts said Tuesday.
The fire, which sent plumes of black smoke over the San Francisco Bay area, erupted Monday evening in the massive Chevron refinery about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco.
It was out early Tuesday, although officials were still conducting a controlled burn.
The West Coast is particularly vulnerable to spikes in gasoline prices because it’s not well-connected to the refineries along the Gulf Coast, where most of the country’s refining capacity is located, analysts say.
Chevron’s refinery is particularly big and important to the market, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.
It produces about 150,000 barrels of gasoline a day – 16 percent of the West Coast’s daily gasoline consumption of 963,000 barrels, according to Kloza.
With inventories of gasoline in the region already low compared with the rest of the country, pump prices in California and elsewhere on the West Coast will soon average more than $4 per gallon, Kloza said.
“It’s a very key refinery,” he said.
Chevron spokesman Lloyd Avram said he did not have an update on when the refinery could be restarted and declined to comment on what kind of impact the shutdown might have on the gasoline market.
Price Futures Group oil analyst Phil Flynn said pictures of the fire suggested it would not be back on line soon.
Flynn predicted motorists would see higher prices at the pump almost immediately. …
via Chevron Fire And Gas Prices: Richmond Refinery Blaze May Impact Cost At The Pump (PHOTOS, VIDEO).
Mordor. A controlled burn of our money.
Dozens of people complaining about breathing problems headed to local emergency rooms.
At the press conference, refinery general manager Nigel Hearne offered an apology to residents and said the priority is extinguishing the blaze.
The Chevron Richmond Refinery is one the largest in the United States – processing up to 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the company’s website.
In 2006, there was an explosion at this plant that sent hundreds of people to the hospital. There were also incidents in 1999 and 2007.