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Gas Prices Could Go Back Over $3 A Gallon After Refinery Explosion

Gas Pump via Shutterstock
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Although gas prices have been at the lowest they've been in six years, Wednesday's explosion at a refinery in Torrance could see them go back up to over $3 a gallon.Gas prices nationwide were already creeping back up before yesterday's incident, and the explosion could give the upward trend an extra kick here in Southern California. "We do expect to see some tightness in the fuel supply market with an expected increase in wholesale and retail prices over the next number of days," Gordon D. Schremp of the state's Energy Commission told KPCC.

In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, gas prices in California ticked up 1.8 cents on Wednesday. That said, they'll still remain pretty low. "I don't think gas prices are going to go to $4 or $5 a gallon. I do think, though, you are going to go back to $3 and above," said an analyst with the Oil Price Information Service. Another oil market expert told The Daily Breeze that we can expect prices to hit that mark by the end of the week.

Although the explosion damaged the fluid catalytic cracking unit and has shut it down for the time being, the Torrance refinery continues to operate and produce gasoline. According to the L.A. Times the Torrance refinery produces 1.8 billion gallons of fuel a year, roughly 8 percent of the state's gas refining capacity. The flare system that caught the attention of social media users will continue to burn as the refinery is repaired, and is designed to safely burn as systems are stabilized. The white "ash" that was emitted in the explosion, coincidentally on Ash Wednesday, and fell in the area was insulation and Torrance police say it is nontoxic.