KTLA News/Los Angeles Times
8:50 AM CDT, August 8, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KTLA) -- A massive fire that disabled a Chevron refinery Monday in Richmond, Calif. has been extinguished, but the damage the blaze dealt may translate to higher gas prices to Southern California motorists.
The blaze may cause gas prices here to jump up to 30 cents per gallon, experts say, as the disaster had a major effect on the cost of wholesale gasoline.
The Richmond refinery is one of 21 refineries in California.
Only 14 of those make an expensive blend of fuel called CARBOB Gas. The Richmond refinery supplied CARBOB gas to Southern California.
With that supply shut down, gas prices could shoot up dramatically.
Bob van der Valk, a fuel price specialist, said the Richmond facility was particularly important for Southern California, even though it is in the Bay Area.
Van der Valk said it supplies gasoline to the Los Angeles area as well as to customers in the Pacific Northwest.
"From the look of things, it's going to be out of service for some time," said Van der Valk, who worked as a pricing manager for Unocal before it merged with Chevron in 2005.
Currently, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Los Angeles and Long Beach is $3.88, according to AAA.
In the Orange County, the average is $3.87, and in the Inland Empire, the figure is $3.85.
But the refinery fire's impact won't be felt until current service stations supplies run out and new gasoline is purchased.