Oil refinery catches fire in Northern California

A worker's helmet lies on the ground at an oil refinery.

Jeremy Hobson: A major refinery for Chevron caught fire in California last night. The fire has been contained, but it's still burning.

And as Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports, one less refinery won't be helpful when it comes to gas prices.

Eve Troeh: Explosions were reportedly heard last night at Chevron's Richmond refinery, and the facility went up in flames. Only one employee was reported injured. But black smoke choked the sky for miles around the plant. Residents were warned to stay inside. Some evacuated of their own accord. The fire has been contained. Chevron is still investigating the source of the incident. State regulators say it could take months to repair the refinery.

Juli Niemann at Smith and Moore advisors says in other parts of the country demand is down, and this might not be such a big deal. But...

Juli Niemann: California has pretty steady demand for gasoline, and so when you take out the big Richmond California refinery, this is going to cause prices on the West Coast to definitely go up for the time being.

Oil and gas refineries have been at capacity for some time now. Older ones have been taken offline, over issues of pollution and operating costs. And as for building new ones? Well, Niemann says, no one wants a new refinery in their back yard.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.


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