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British Petroleum refinery fire could cause a superspike in California gas prices

In the last 24 hours gas prices have increased nine cents following news that British Petroleum / Arco's  massive Carson refinery had a flaring event early this morning. The unplanned flaring is expected to continue through Wednesday, according to Reuters, and was caused by an unspecified breakdown.

Locally, BP's Carson refinery is capable of producing 260,000 barrels a day of refined fuel. It supplies roughly 13.5% of California's gas.  The Arco fire comes on the heels of a fire at its Cherry Point refinery in Washington State, which is also expected to be non-operational for the next six weeks. The Cherry Point fire was given as one of the reasons for the recent run-up in California gas prices by some analysts, even though its contributions to California's fuel supplies are minimal.

According to Charles Langley, Manager of UCAN's Gas Project, local gas prices could increase as by much as 20 cents in the next few days. Motorists who buy gasoline now may be able to save several dollars on a tank of gas before the full impact of the price hikes are passed through to retailers.