Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blaze shuts Chevron Bay Area refinery; gasoline spikes

(Reuters) - A fire that shut Chevron Corp's Richmond plant, the second-largest refinery in California, was extinguished early on Tuesday as fears of a months-long closure caused a 25-cent spike in regional gasoline prices.

The fire that spewed flames and a column of smoke high above the densely populated industrial suburb of east San Francisco Bay shortly after 6 p.m. local time on Monday was contained by 11 p.m. and then extinguished, Chevron said. Officials have allowed a small controlled burn to continue, the firm said.

As traders recalled a similar fire on the same unit in 2007 that left the plant mostly idle for over three months, Los Angeles benchmark gasoline rates spiked nearly 25 cents, driving up the price of the nation's costliest motor fuel and delivering a margin boost for competing refiners who may rev up rates. Diesel premiums rose 6 cents from Monday, brokers said.

The 245,000-barrels-per-day (bpd) plant, which accounts for one-eighth of California's refining capacity, was reported to be completely shut down, and could remain so for up to three months, trade sources estimated. It was in the midst of marking its 110th anniversary this summer. Read More