Los Angeles

Gas Prices Could Rise After Torrance Oil Refinery Fire: Analysts

A flare-up at a oil refinery in Torrance brought up new concerns over the increase of gas prices in Southern California, petroleum experts said.

Over the next two days, gas prices could immediately hike up by five to 10 cents per gallon, said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com. 

"(Tuesday's) fire is likely to tighten the available supply for Southern California and we should anticipate retail prices rising immediately," he said.

Refinery output in the West Coast has been notably lower than the rest of the country at 77 percent, Laskoski said. 

Residents living near the oil refinery were concerned after a fire broke out Tuesday at the facility.

No one was injured in the fire reported around 4:20 p.m. Tuesday in the 3700 block of 190th Street and extinguished about 25 minutes later, said Torrance Fire Department Capt. Bob Millea.

The fire occurred in the refinery's alkylation unit, which is where a form of liquid hydrofluoric acid is used in the refining process to boost the octane rating of gasoline, The Daily Breeze reported.

"There has been no off-site impact noted, Millea said.

Two dozen Torrance firefighters worked with refinery personnel to put out the flames.

An alert issued by the city said no hazards were detected off site.

"The line has been isolated with the goal to burn off residual product in the line," according to an alert, which said no flaring was required.

Some employees were evaluated at the scene but did not require hospital treatment, authorities said.

The use of hydrofluoric acid has come under scrutiny from the community since a February 2015 explosion put the plant formerly owned by ExxonMobil offline and caused gas prices to soar. That blast in the refinery's electrostatic precipitator showered the surrounding area with debris and raised health concerns among area residents.

Tuesday's fire gave rise to serious concerns.

"This is not just a fire, this is a fire at the alky unit, the one that uses hydrofluoric acid and could take out the South Bay if released. This is incredibly scary,'' the community group South Bay FLARE wrote on its Facebook page.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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