BP Plc idled production at its Cherry Point refinery in Washington state on Saturday following a fire.
More tankers loaded with gasoline were also expected to move to the West Coast because of the idled BP plant, which is the third largest refinery in the region.
Now it is expected that the idling of the plant near Ferndale, Wash. — accounting for 8.7 percent of crude-oil refining capacity on the West Coast — could drive fuel prices higher next week.
“Wholesale gasoline could take a pretty good pop on Tuesday,” said David Hackett, president of Stillwater Associates of Irvine, California.
By Tuesday, the premium for gasoline in the region could be approaching the Los Angeles level, said petroleum industry analyst Bob van der Valk of Terry, Montana.
“I think it will have a major impact,” van der Valk said. “I see Portland-Seattle market prices jumping between 15 and 20 cents a gallon.”
The refinery employs more than 800 people and can process as much as 230,000 barrels of Alaska crude oil a day, mostly transportation fuels.
The fire burned for an hour Friday afternoon in the refinery’s crude processing unit and sent plumes of black smoke visible for miles.