California motorists should be on alert for a 10-20 cent per gallon spike at retail pumps over the next few days. Some gas stations could even see as much as a 30 cents per gallon spike, following refinery outages due to excessive heat and other related issues, as well as a continued outage at a Chevron facility due to fire this past summer.
"Prices that stations pay for gasoline have already increased by as much as 73 cents per gallon over the last week in some California markets, much of which has yet to hit retail pumps," said Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst for GasBuddy.com.
"While wholesale increases do not always translate directly into immediate retail increases of the same amount, they certainly point to the direction for which motorists should be prepared. This situation could be similar to that of the refinery fire earlier this year that impacted much of the West Coast except now the worst is likely to occur in California."
Whether the California refineries resume operation in days or weeks remains to be determined. Unfortunately, because California has state-specific requirements for its gasoline, the California mandates exacerbate fuel supply problems when events such as these occur. Without legislative reforms, it cannot simply borrow fuel from neighboring states when California refinery production is impeded.