TORRANCE ( — An explosion at a large refinery in the South Bay will likely cause a ripple effect at the gas pump with prices predicted to increase.

The blast rocked the Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in the 3700 West 190th Street in Torrance before 9 a.m. Wednesday and shook the area with the force of a 1.7-magnitude quake.

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Economists and watchdog groups said the refinery has been offline since Monday. Exxon Mobil would not confirm that and economists say there has been no effect on the price of gasoline.

But with the impact of the explosion, experts say drivers will definitely see a bump in gas prices.

“My prediction, as an economist, would be over the next 20 to 30 days, a bump at the pump of somewhere between 12 to 20 cents a gallon,” Kevin Cochrane, an economist, said.

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Experts say with the Tesoro oil refinery in Northern California also offline, California has lost about 17 percent of its refining capacity in just the past two weeks.

“One of the challenges in California, especially in Southern California, is you can’t just bring gasoline from anywhere. We’ve got all kinds of restriction on the type of gasoline we can use,” said S. Raj Rajagopaian of the Global Supply Chain Management Program.

As KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold reports, those restrictions coupled with capacity issues, an anticipated switch to the summer blend, and the fallout from the explosion may mean even higher prices.

“It’s a shame and I hope they find a way to keep the gas prices affordable for the people,” Mike Garcia, a driver, said.

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