West Coast: Steel Yourself for $4-Plus Gas

5 investigations planned in California refinery blast
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 10, 2012 9:48 AM CDT
A man pumps gas at a Chevron gas station in San Francisco, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(Newser) – California's refinery fire could take a toll on West Coast drivers: They can expect gas prices to break $4 per gallon as soon as today, the AP reports. The refinery supplies 16% of the region's gas, and prices have already jumped from an average of $3.86 to $3.94 in California, analysts say—though a Chevron rep says the blast isn't the only cause of such increases. Still, it could be weeks before normal production is resumed.

Investigators—including those who reviewed the BP oil spill—are launching five separate probes to see what caused the explosion and how it could play out. The explosion damaged a section of the refinery that produces clean-burning gasoline, and "California has the cleanest-burning gas in the nation, so this is definitely a market disruption," says one analyst. It's possible, note others, that other refineries could help ease the shortage. Meanwhile, Chevron can expect a wealth of lawsuits over health problems surrounding the explosion.

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