San Francisco gas prices are poised to hit their all-time high, as the heavy storms caused Richmond and Martinez refineries to experience what they call an “operational upset.”
It is well known that California has the highest gas prices in the nation, currently at $4.55 a gallon according to AAA data. But San Francisco gas stations look at that $4.55 price and say “Hold my Four Loko.” As of Monday, a gallon of gas is averaging a much higher $4.73 here in the city, and this time, the culprit is not taxes or fossil fuel regulations. It’s because of Sunday’s humdinger of a storm, which knocked out multiple East Bay refineries, and in turn is driving up gas prices.
Gas prices in the Bay Area near all-time high. And there are concerns storm-related disruptions at local refineries could contribute to the upward trend in high prices at the pump. https://t.co/sdYP3eSLz9— KTVU (@KTVU) October 26, 2021
Bloomberg reports that SF gas prices were near their all-time record Monday, actually one cent short of the 2012 record. (The Bloomberg report is behind a paywall, but Yahoo News has a free version). “Retail prices in the city were averaging $4.727 a gallon Monday, just a penny short of their record high set in 2012,” Bloomberg reported.
A PBF refinery in Martinez “experienced an operational upset,” as they said in a regulatory filing acquired by Bloomberg. We suspect that is this Hazardous Materials Spill Report, which opaquely describes that “due to compressor loss at 0656, there is a potential release of SO2 at the Martinez Refinery. Estimated to be over their threshold of 500lbs. Caller is making notifications.” This is the same refinery that saw 12,500 gallons of raw sewage spilled there in late August, so they’re having a rough couple months.
Over in Richmond, plenty of people noticed flare-ups at the Chevron refinery. KTVU even got a statement out of Chevron, in which the company says the flares are out, but not OUT-out.
"We are experiencing intermittent flaring as we manage recovery from the process unit upset. We are urgently working to minimize and stop the flaring," Chevron told KTVU. They added that they were measuring for air quality toxins, and claims any hazards were "well below health standards and mostly under detection limits in our adjacent neighborhoods."
A Valero refinery in Benicia is also closed, but that was a scheduled maintenance closure unrelated to the storms.
Gas prices in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood today. pic.twitter.com/IWh6nKA27O— Helmut the Schmidt (@sfhelmut) October 19, 2021
People will surely point out that they’ve paid well over $4.73 for a gallon of gas even before the storm, and they’re probably correct. But $4.73 is the current average, gas is priced higher in some neighborhoods based on traffic and perceived spending habits. Yet the average currently sits at $4.73, a number that will almost certainly go up this week and shatter the all-time record from 2012.
Image: @Matthew4300 via Twitter