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Gas Prices Rise After Fire at Major California Refinery

Find out where to get the cheapest gas in Belmont Shore and beyond after a fire pumps up prices.

The recent surge in local gas prices isn’t due to war in the Middle East or problems in the Persian Gulf, but rather a fire at what has been called a “key refinery” in northern California, according to a Chevron spokeperson.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in communities throughout Southern California jumped about 6.7 cents in just one week after a fire erupted Monday around 6:30 p.m. at a Chevron refinery in Richmond, located about 10 miles north of San Francisco, that was apparently caused by a leak.

The blaze sent black clouds of smoke into the skyline, caused at least three workers to the hospital and sent more than a hundred residents of nearby communities to seek medical attention for breathing problems and eye irritation, according to the Associated Press. It also temporarily shut down oil production at one of the country’s biggest refineries.

Gas in Long Beach can still be found for under $4 a gallon, but that may change soon.

The current average price of $4.039 per gallon in Los Angeles--which is almost 35 cents than last month and nearly 29 cents more one year ago--is expected to continue to rise, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

(You can check for the best gas prices near you with our Commute real-time map that also reports traffic problems.)

How long the upward trend lasts may depend on how long it takes the refinery to get back to production. The Chevron refinery is typically repsonsible for about 16 percent of the region's daily gasoline consumption of 963,000 barrels, Kloza told the Associated Press, and produces about 150,000 barrels daily.

In the meantime, here are some of the cheapest places to fill up in Belmont Shore and nearby, according to the latest reports from GasBuddy.com:

  • 3.87 at ARCO, located at 4385 Atlantic Ave. and San Antonio Drive
  • 3.88 at Vons, located at 1818 Ximeno Ave. and Los Coyotes Diagonal
  • 3.89 at ARCO, located at 3401 Long Beach Blvd. and Wardlow Road
  • 3.89 at Oasis Fuel, located at 1777 W. Wardlow Rd. and S. Santa Fe Avenue
  • 3.89 Food 4 Less, located at 6700 Cherry Ave. and E. 68th Street

Do you know of any other gas stations offering good deals? Let us know in the comments.

David D Tracey August 11, 2012 at 02:39 PM
This is a typcal oil company scam to justify hiking prices. They have tanks full of gasoline throughout the state. It should take weeks if not months for one refineries shutdown to affect the gasoline prices, regardless of its size,not the very next week. Besides, 150000 barrels per day is not a large refinery but an average size.
Nancy Wride (Editor) August 11, 2012 at 06:56 PM
I wondered about that as well, David. It doesn't seem that the impact would be so immediate for a product that involves several stages of transportation, storeage and distribution, etc. The San Onofre impact on power, where the plant provides 20% of our power according to the LATimes, and its now been shut down a couple months, makes more sense to me.
John B. Greet August 11, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I had heard someone suggest that this refinery is only one of four or so that produce a blend of gasoline specifically required here in CA due to air quality standards. Don't know if that is true. I do know that gasoline retailers buy and sell fuel products of all grades and blends from one another all the time. Loyalty to a specific brand is really sort of silly in that context. Isn't gasoline a commodity that is bought and sold as such? If so, wouldn't the commodity market activity be more responsible for price jumps than any sort of gouging or opportunism on the part of refiners?

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