Motorists in Colorado should prepare to pay more at the pump after Suncor Energy announced this week that it will close its Commerce City refinery for three months due to equipment damage at the expanding facility last week. setting the weather.”
Grier Bailey, executive director of the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association and the Colorado Convenience Store Association, said 35% to 40% of the state’s gas and diesel market in Colorado “will have unusually high prices for the next six to eight weeks.” Supplied by Suncor, dries suddenly.
“It’s not a cause for panic, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see more of these yellow bags at gas pumps,” Bailey said. “It’s a huge supply disruption for a huge part of the market.”
Drivers will begin to see the effects of the closing at Colorado gas stations “within a week,” he said, although most of the price impact will be felt closer to the Front Range. He did not predict how much of a per-gallon increase motorists might see.
The average pump price in Denver on Thursday was about $2.70 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.
Suncor is the only oil and gas refinery in Colorado and processes approximately 98,000 barrels of oil per day. It also produces most of the asphalt used to pave Colorado’s roads and supplies the market with jet fuel. The company says 95% of the products it makes in Commerce City stay in Colorado.
Colorado AAA spokeswoman Skyler McKinley said Colorado drivers will experience a “shock to the system” over the next few months. He doesn’t expect fuel shortages, although individual gas stations may have to close for a day or two while they wait for fuel.
“In the near term, we have every reason to expect that this will frustrate motorists, especially with lower gas prices,” McKinley said.
Bailey said in the past few decades of studying the market, he’s never seen a Commerce City refinery shut down this long. He hopes gasoline suppliers in other states will be able to fill some of the shortage Colorado will experience in the next few months.
Suncor, based in Calgary, Canada, said it hoped to have the plant back up and running by the end of the first quarter of 2023, meaning the shutdown could last up to three months.
“In accordance with our operational excellence and safe operating practices, it was determined on December 24 that the entire facility will be shut down and placed into a safe mode to inspect all facilities and repair damaged equipment,” Suncor said. a press release this week. “Inspection and repair of damaged equipment continues.”
The company declined to provide additional information about the closing Thursday when contacted by The Denver Post. No detailed information was given on which equipment was affected by the cold and the extent of its damage.
The closure decision comes after extreme cold at Suncor caused the plant to shut down a week ago, releasing harmful pollutants. Excess emissions include hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, opacity and visible emissions, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
December 21st and 22nd saw the coldest temperatures in decades in Metro Denver, when the thermometer didn’t break zero degrees as high temperatures for hours.
On Christmas Eve, two Suncor employees were taken to hospital with burns after a fire caused by a steam leak at an oil refinery. And then, on Tuesday, another fire broke out at Plant No. 2 as workers were shutting it down.
The company said that the fire was extinguished and no one was injured. He also said data collected by air monitors around the refinery “does not indicate any acute public health concern.”
“Notably, concentrations for all compounds measured remained below acute health guideline values before, during and immediately after the event,” the company said in an email.
The Commerce City facility is the largest single source of air pollution in the state and is under heavy scrutiny for numerous air pollution violations. In 2020, the company agreed to pay $9 million with the state for violations, and that settlement included more monitoring of community air.
Last summer, Suncor installed new automated shut-off systems inside two gasoline plants at its Commerce City refinery to prevent a repeat of a 2019 failure that spewed a clay-like substance into the surrounding neighborhood.
Bailey said the plant needed to “come back online in the safest way possible.” But he said the closing underscores the refinery’s importance to Colorado consumers and the state’s economy.
“People like to shoot at Suncor in Commerce City,” he said. “It’s important to understand that they provide a very important product and a very important service.”
Staff writer Judith Kohler contributed to this report