Price at pump climbs in state

Times Staff Writer

A Texas refinery fire last week fueled demand for California gasoline and helped drive pump prices up by nearly 8 cents during the week, well above the increases felt all over the nation, analysts said Tuesday.

The average price of a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline rose to $2.710 in California on Monday, up from $2.632 last week, according to the Energy Information Administration’s weekly survey of filling stations around the U.S., which was released a day late because of the Presidents Day holiday. The latest California average was 23.7 cents higher than the year-earlier price.

Valero Energy Corp.'s refinery in Sunray, Texas, was shut down after the Friday fire forced the evacuation of the facility, which is capable of processing 170,000 barrels of oil a day. Valero said in a statement Tuesday that a partial start-up of the refinery was several weeks away.

The significance for California, analysts said, comes from the fact that the Valero refinery supplies gasoline to Arizona. That put a greater demand on Southern California refineries because they also are major suppliers of Arizona gasoline.


“It may seem strange that a refinery fire in Texas can affect California gas prices, but it feeds markets that will have to be supplemented and some of that California gasoline will be headed east,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service in New Jersey.

Gasoline prices rose across the nation, bringing the U.S. average to $2.296 a gallon, up 5.5 cents from last week. A year earlier, the U.S. average was 5.6 cents lower.

In New York futures trading Tuesday, crude oil for March delivery finished down $1.32 to $58.07 a barrel.

Phil Flynn, vice president and senior market analyst for Alaron Trading Corp. in Chicago, said it would take a severe cold snap, serious trouble in a major oil producing nation or a downturn in the economy to knock oil out of its recent $57-to-$60 per-barrel trading range in the coming weeks.