Annual refinery shutdowns mean higher gas prices

February 13th, 2014 | by Colin Atagi | Comments

It’s that time of year again.

Oil refineries across Southern California are shutting down for their annual routine maintenance, and this should ultimately cause gasoline prices to rise.

The increase has already begun, and the Automobile Club of Southern California reported Thursday that the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel jumped 7 cents in the past week.

tdsdc5-609gg10yzyxgbfnco5n_layoutThe average price for a gallon of gas in the Inland Empire is $3.72, which is up from last week’s average of $3.61.

California’s average price per gallon came in Thursday at $3.67 – a 7.4 cent increase from seven days ago.

“At current wholesale price levels, pump prices still have some momentum to increase by 15 to 20 cents,” Auto Club spokesman Jeff Spring said. “But wholesale prices are even more volatile than retail, so that momentum could disappear or increase further.”

Experts have said current price increases aren’t comparable to past spikes related to refinery issues, such as the August 2012 fire at the Richmond Chevron refinery.

Shut downs related to annual maintenance are planned for in advance and take place under set schedules. This helps suppliers prepare for a halt in production and they usually know the timeframe of the shutdowns.

Prices at the pump may still go up once maintenance wraps up, though.

Refineries are producing summer blend fuel, which burns at a cleaner rate during the warmer months. This adds 5 to 10 cents per gallon of gas.

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