Experts: California Refinery Fire Will Boost Gas Prices
Analysts say a fire at one of the country's biggest oil refineries will contribute to higher prices at the pump on the West Coast.
The fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco, broke out Monday evening.
It sent plumes of black smoke over the San Francisco Bay area and sent scores of people to hospitals with breathing problems before it was out the following morning.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service, says Chevron's refinery is big and important to the market.
With inventories of gasoline in the region already low compared with the rest of the country, Kloza says pump prices in California and elsewhere on the West Coast will soon average more than $4 per gallon.
Meanwhile, Chevron is investigating the cause of a fire at its Richmond refinery.
Spokeswoman Heather Kulp says the fire began around 6:15 p.m. Monday, about two hours after a leak was detected.
Kulp said there were no explosions, and staff at the refinery initiated an emergency response immediately after the fire started.
Residents said they heard loud blasts around the time the fire broke out, although Chevron officials could not confirm those reports.
Chevron said the blaze in the refinery's No. 4 Crude Unit was contained in about five hours.
Scores of people sought help at area hospitals, complaining of shortness of breath. None were seriously ill.
Kulp said three employees suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene.