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Fill Up Now Before Gas Prices Spike, Experts Warn

A refinery explosion at one of the state's large suppliers has already sent gas prices climbing, and it might get worse.

Now is the time to fill up the gas tank because experts expect gas prices to skyrocket in response to this week’s explosion at a Northern California refinery responsible for 15 percent of the state’s supply.

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Orange County rose 5.5 cents Thursday, its largest daily increase since May 12, to $3.944, its highest amount since June 16. The Orange County average price has risen 26 times in 28 days and is 10.8 cents more than one week ago, 28.6 cents higher than one month ago and 18 cents greater than one year ago.

The fire at a Chevron Corp. refinery in Richmond broke out Monday afternoon. The 110-year-old plant processes 243,000 barrels of oil a day into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, accounting for about 15 percent of the state's fuel-making capacity, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Industry analysts expect a double-digit price hike in the coming days as a result of the fire, and a prolonged closure would have a negative impact on both consumers and the state's economy.

“Monday night’s major fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond had an immediate effect on the wholesale gasoline market on Tuesday, which has caused gas prices to shoot up since then,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “Southern Californians have already been experiencing increased pump prices for nearly a month due to higher oil prices, and this incident has just made the increases come even more quickly. However, since that Northern California refinery is still partly operating, the impact may not be as great as what happened in February with the Cherry Point refinery fire in Washington. More should be known in the next few days.”

The fire at a BP refinery in Washington state in February left the plant out of commission until May, causing gasoline prices in the Pacific Northwest to rise about 70 cents.

- City News Service

Karen Devine August 11, 2012 at 01:27 AM
We've noticed the increase in gas prices. Going to get worse?. That's a bummer!
Ron McLaughlin August 11, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Sounds like Jerry Brown is trying to get a little revenue into the state. I'm in the oil industry and this shouldn't affect us, if its true at all.
Karen Devine August 11, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Right. I wonder about this too.
enea ostrich August 12, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Seems like there is always an excuse to raise prices in California. Anyhow, one of the very few gas stations I go to told me that the exchange of money for gas is amazing before it comes to the consumer. In my view of this I see only money hungry corporates who will make that excuse that they are directly affected by an accident and spread their grief on us consumers. Easy cop out but not the way to handle their mess. It was not us who created that mess and you would think after 110 years of production that it would have a triple check system in place. Apparently not and I would love to know what happened as the news is pretty vague on this--in fact! No major news is continuing on this and in fact when I mentioned this article to my co-workers they were unaware of it. So, who is the real culprit here--the governor or Chevron, the one who messed up in the first place?
Eric Richardson August 12, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I always find it amazing that the moment some disaster strikes, all the gas stations jack their prices up - even on the fuel they've already purchased at the lower price. Anything to make more money.

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