Business & Real Estate

Gas prices: Exxon Mobil explosion unlikely to impact Northern California

A structure is damaged after an explosion in a processing facility at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015.
A structure is damaged after an explosion in a processing facility at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. AP

A large explosion Wednesday at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance is likely to send Southern California gas prices about 7 to 15 cents higher in the coming week, but it will have virtually no effect on Northern California at-the-pump costs, according to a Los Angeles-based energy expert.

“We’re already seeing (Southern California) prices going up, but there are other issues affecting prices, so it’s hard to really say right now how much direct impact the (refinery explosion) will have,” said Allison Mac, a petroleum analyst with national gas price tracker GasBuddy.com . But she emphasized that any impact will be limited to the Los Angeles area, not Northern California.

Other issues – including rising crude oil prices and a three-week-old United Steelworkers union strike impacting Tesoro’s refinery in Martinez – continue to push Northern California gas prices upward.

GasBuddy, which does a daily survey of more than 700 gas outlets in the Sacramento area, said the average retail gas price in the region Thursday was $2.71 a gallon, up 12 cents from last week and a 30-cent spike in one month. By comparison, the average retail price in the Los Angeles area on Thursday was $2.90 a gallon, up 14 cents from last week and a 38-cent gain in one month.

Analysts expect Northern California prices to rise steadily up to the Memorial Day weekend, partly due to refineries switching to pricier spring and summer gas blends.

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

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