Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More upward pressure on gasoline prices coming

The refinery explosion which occurred today at the BP Amoco facility in Texas City (near Galveston, south of Houston) claimed at least 14 lives and sent nearly one hundred people to the hospital.

Terrorism has been ruled out, according to the FBI.

This refinery, the third-largest in the nation, produces 3% of the nation's daily gasoline supply.

Without demeaning those of my neighbors who lost their lives or were injured today, one of the significant impacts of this event will be an immediate spike in the price of gas, perhaps as much as 10-15 cents per gallon. That's depending on how long this refinery's gasoline production is interrupted. "Immediate" can be defined as within the next few days. That will occur at your pump, wherever it is you happen to live in the United States.

I believe the price of gasoline, already steadily escalating, will begin surging. I think $3.00 a gallon, here in Texas, by Memorial Day, is a distinct possibility. I hope I'm wrong, because the impact of such a circumstance on the economy -- locally as well as nationwide -- will be severe.

And now back to your Terri Schiavo/Michael Jackson/steroids-in-baseball regularly scheduled programming.

Update: Perhaps I was Chicken Little in my prediction:

Other than the unit affected by the blast, the rest of the refinery was running normally, said Hugh Depland, spokesman for BP, formerly British Petroleum.

He declined to answer questions about the capacity the refinery was running Thursday or how production would be affected.

Gasoline prices could rise slightly because the plant is such a large gas producer. In afternoon trading Thursday in New York, the price of unleaded gasoline for April delivery was up less than a penny at $1.583 a gallon.

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