Chevron Fire Sends Gas Prices Soaring
The fire broke out on Monday evening in the 110-year-old refinery 10 miles northeast of San Francisco.The fire started in the No.4 crude unit stemming from a leak. The workers were evacuated as the leak grew and none reported serious injuries.
Almost immediately after the fire was reported, nearby residents were ordered indoors and told to shut all windows and doors.
By early Tuesday, the fire was under control, but it still caused over 900 people to show up in emergency rooms around the area with respiratory problems, the LA Times reported.
It can take months to repair a Crude Distillation Unit, especially one the size of the Richmond plant, and during this time, plant operations are severally limited. To make matters worse, the No. 4 crude unit (CDU) was the only one at the Richmond plant.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service told The Huffington Post that the refinery in question is very large and important for the market. It produces about 150,000 barrels of gasoline per day - 16 percent of the West Coast's daily gasoline consumption.
To further add to its importance, the Richmond refinery is one of 14 in California that produces the special blend of gasoline required by the state. The blend is the most environmentally-friendly in the nation and because of that, is more expensive to make and is produced by few refineries out of state.
Gas prices in California have already risen since Monday, a day in which regular gas was priced at about $3.84 per gallon. As of Wednesday morning, the price has jumped to $3.89 and is expected to rise well above $4 a gallon.