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Gas Prices Expected To Jump 25 Cents After NorCal Refinery Fire

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Gas prices are expected to rise by as much as 25 cents this week after a fire erupted at a Chevron oil refinery near San Francisco.

“It’s easy to predict that retail prices are going to go up sharply in the next 10 days, and we’re going to see higher prices than we saw last year,” Tom Kloza, Oil Price Information Service Chief Oil Analyst, told CBS2/KCAL9’s Carter Evans.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports drivers throughout the Southland are bracing for more pain at the pump.

Drivers already paying $3.93 per gallon at one Union 76 station are in no hurry to return to shelling out over $4.00 or more per gallon.

“Absolutely not,” said one customer.

The fire, which was first reported at 6:40 p.m. on Monday, has been contained after burning a process unit at the Richmond facility, but it’s not yet known what started the blaze.

No injuries were reported, but about 200 people had sought at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, a town near the Chevron refinery in Richmond.

Several dozen more people visited the emergency room at Kaiser’s Richmond Medical Center complaining of shortness of breath, but none was seriously ill.

The refinery produces jet and diesel fuels as well as other petroleum products, is expected to be close for an unknown period of time.

The Richmond facility is one of 14 refineries in California. It is one of the biggest, accounting for 1/8 of the state’s refining capacity by processing nearly 250,000 barrels of oil each day.

“That’s about five million gallons a day shortage. That’s a lot of gasoline we don’t have,” USC Director of Petroleum Engineering Prof. Iraj Ershaghi said.

Phil Flynn, an energy analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the closure will likely have a significant ripple effect on crude prices in the short term.

“This is a major refinery, and the fire looks serious, and it does account for about 10 percent of the total refining capacity all along the entire West Coast,” said Flynn.

Flynn added drivers could see increases ranging from anywhere between 25 cents to 50 cents per gallon in coming weeks.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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