Monday’s fire at a Chevron (NYSE:CVX) refinery in Richmond, Calif., has already led to higher gas prices in West Coast states, and more price hikes at the pump are expected. According to some analysts, residents in the West might not be the only ones paying more for gasoline.
“August looks like a very touch-and-go month for the entire country,” Oil Price Information Service energy analyst Tom Kloza, told USA Today.
Kloza, who believes gas prices will drop after Labor Day, also said that for the year to date, gasoline has averaged $3.61 a gallon. That figure is 10 cents higher than 2011′s full year average.
Andre Lipow, a refining industry consultant, told The San Francisco Chronicle that as fuel imports are diverted to the West Coast, other areas in the U.S. could be effected.
“We could have an effect, to a lesser extent, in other parts of the country as supplies are juggled around to meet the needs of everybody,” Lipow said.
Lipow also said he expects retail gasoline prices in Los Angeles and San Francisco to “rise by 10 to 15 cents per gallon over coming weeks as a result of the fire.”
Whether or not gas prices will continue to spike because of the fire — and how high those prices will soar — depends on how long it takes Chevron to repair the damage caused by the blaze, Denton Cinquegrana, the West Coast spots editor at Oil Price Information Service told the Chronicle.
“This is not an overnight thing,” Cinquegrana said.
Chevron has not released a statement about the refinery fire’s effect on gas prices, but it has set up a special Web page devoted to providing informational updates about the incident.