Gas Prices in US Rise Amid West Coast Refinery Shutdowns

Gas Prices in US Rise Amid West Coast Refinery Shutdowns

“This is not the Biden administration’s fault, but they know that if gas prices are back at $4.50 on Election Day, they’re in trouble,” said Tom Kloza, a founder of Oil Price Information Service, a price reporting agency, referring to the November midterm elections.

Aside from the political consequences, a sustained rise in gas prices could affect how businesses and consumers view the economy. In July, falling gas prices were a key part of the better-than-expected reading of the Consumer Price Index, offering a brief glimmer of hope to those looking for signs that inflation has peaked.

Among the West Coast refineries that have shut down is one in Washington State run by Phillips 66 and two near San Francisco that are run by Valero and Chevron.

Not every shutdown is predictable. A fire at a BP-owned refinery near Toledo, Ohio, shuttered that facility in September. It may not reopen until early 2023, Bloomberg News reported late last month, citing unnamed sources. In Ohio, the average price of gas rose to $3.939 a gallon on Friday from $3.609 a month earlier.

Chevron and Phillips 66 said they do not comment on the day-to-day operations of their refineries. BP and Valero didn’t immediately respond to questions about the refineries. The refineries do not typically release much detail about closings or when they expect to reopen, analysts said.

Prices in California and other states have fallen slightly since Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week that the state could start producing its winter blend of gasoline early, which is cheaper for refiners to produce since it contains fewer of the additives that protect against environmental conditions in the summer. The introduction of the winter blend, paired with the potential for slowed demand in fall and winter driving seasons, could help bring prices back down, said Devin Gladden, a spokesman for AAA.

On Wednesday, the group known as OPEC Plus, which includes Saudi Arabia and Russia, announced that it would slash oil production by two million barrels a day, a decision that drew an immediate condemnation from the Biden administration. On Thursday, Mr. Biden told reporters that he was “disappointed” by the decision and looking into “alternatives.” The White House also said it would release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the country’s stockpile of crude oil.

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