Gas prices soar on refinery, pipeline woes
Refinery problems and a pipeline closure have suddenly sent gasoline prices soaring in California, even as they fall in most of the country.
The average price for a gallon of regular gas in California jumped 5 cents overnight to hit $4.23 Wednesday, according to a daily survey from the AAA motor club. Never before have prices been so high at this time of year.
“We’re going to see a pretty pronounced spike in prices,” said Denton Cinquegrana, senior editor for West Coast fuel markets at the Oil Price Information Service. California’s record - a statewide average of $4.61 per gallon, set in June 2008 - could be in jeopardy, he said.
“I don’t think it’s out of the question,” Cinquegrana said. “The system is very short on gasoline right now.”
San Francisco’s average hit $4.33 per gallon Wednesday, while San Jose’s reached $4.28.
The price spike began Monday after two unconnected events struck refineries in both Northern and Southern California.
An electricity outage hit the Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Torrance (Los Angeles County) Monday morning, shutting down some of the plant’s units and slowing others. The facility typically makes about 10 percent of California’s gasoline.
More than 100 miles to the north, a Chevron Corp. pipeline that brings crude oil from Kern County to three Bay Area refineries closed the same day after the company found elevated levels of chloride in the line. The Kettleman-Los Medanos pipeline is one of three carrying crude from the southern San Joaquin Valley to the East Bay.
October surprise? Obama’s been attacking Big Oil since day one. Might this help Romney?