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Auto Club says refinery fire gas price rise may have peaked

The Automobile Club of Southern California says that the recent refinery fire-related fuel price rise may have peaked, for now.

The Aug. 6 blaze at Chevron Corp.'s Richmond refinery has left the plant operating at less than full capacity. Gasoline prices quickly jumped by 25 cents a gallon or more just days after the incident, but the Auto Club says that the rate of that increase has already slowed.

“Southern California gas prices have actually only risen by about 2 cents since Sunday, and most of the week-to-week increase occurred last Friday and Saturday,” said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. “With the refinery still partially open, it appears that wholesale gasoline buyers feel that for now, they have captured most of the cost increase that will result from the fire.”

What happens to the price now will depend, in part, on just how much the fire has reduced production, and Chevron isn’t talking about that right now.

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The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.115 per gallon, which is 15.9 cents more than last week, 38 cents higher than last month, and 40 cents higher than last year.

In San Diego, the price is $4.100, 16.1 cents above last week, 39 cents above last month, and 38 cents higher than last year.

In the Central Coast, the average price is $4.132, up 15.1 cents from last week, 34 cents higher than a month ago, and 37 cents above last year.

In the Inland Empire, the average per gallon price is $4.090, up 17.1 cents from last week, 40 cents higher than last month, and 39 cents more than last year.

Other developments related to the refinery fire:

  • Nine nearby residents are suing the San Ramon-based oil giant, alleging gross negligence in the facility’s maintenance and in Chevron’s response to the fire.
  • Chevron officials and members of a U.S. Chemical Safety Board investigation team were looking for a safe path they could use to enter the location where the fire began. Some structural beams were apparently damaged by the heat.
  • Investigators are looking into what sparked the huge vapor cloud that ignited after a leak was found. This includes the the possibility that emergency vehicles that responded to the scene may have inadvertently caused the spark.

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