Could be a big boost, in fact, the result of Monday's fire at Chevron's 110-year-old Richmond refinery. One unit is shut down and the status of the other three is unclear. No estimate on how long it will be before the facility resumes normal operations, but oil markets are already factoring in a substantial price increase. L.A.-area gas prices had been increasing for a while - an average gallon of regular is $3.888, according to the Auto Club, up about a nickel from last week and more than 17 cents from a month ago. Gas prices are slaves to the oil markets, of course, but they're also subject to the ups and downs of regional production. Chicago prices took off last week because of refinery problems in Illinois and Indiana. From Bloomberg:
Carbob spot prices today may be 24 cents higher than yesterday and diesel may jump 4 cents, Bob van der Valk, a petroleum industry analyst in Terry, Montana, said in an e-mail. He said BP Plc (BP/)'s Cherry Point refinery in Washington took four months to reach full operation after a fire in February. "These increases will be passed along to retail pumps at California and gas stations as far north as Seattle," he said.
The Contra Costa County health-services department issued a shelter-in-place advisory for Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo because of the fire. The agency recommended that residents stay inside their homes or the nearest buildings, bring pets indoors, close doors and windows, and make sure vents and fireplaces are closed. As of 11:30 p.m. local time yesterday about 200 people had sought services at the Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, California, 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the refinery, according to an e-mailed statement from the center.