Just when driving season was winding down, it happened: several refineries in California were tripped up with unexpected outages, and it may cause a temporary spike at the pump, most notably for California's motorists.
Pump prices over the weekend may perk up several cents per gallon or even more at once, thanks to three notable refineries being tripped up over the last day. According to a company spokesperson, Valero shut a unit Thursday at its San Francisco-area refinery following an operational upset associated with the unit. The refinery can process 135,000 barrels of crude per day, according to the company.
Also in the San Fran area, Shell was reportedly flaring at its refinery in Martinez. Shell's refinery can process 158,000 barrels of crude per day. Flaring at a refinery indicates a problem and is done to relieve pressure immediately. The problem arose after a flare gas compressor shut down due to an equipment malfunction, according to a filing with the National Response Center.
Lastly, Phillips 66 reported that a unit broke down Thursday morning at its Los Angeles area refinery. The refinery was flaring after the incident.
The issues may result in gas prices rising throughout the Golden State in the next few days. In some places, prices may rise over ten cents per gallon. This is a short term blip, however, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. The incidents are relatively minor, and should be corrected in the next week.