Chicago Oil Refinery Fire : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Reported on Global tv last night, complete with awesome live photos. Has anyone seen an online article about this?

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 15, 2001


Headline: Fire hits refinery in Lemont

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 15 August 2001


A fire in Lemont Tuesday morning could ignite a rise in prices at gasoline pumps throughout the Chicago area. The blaze indefinitely shut down a Citgo refinery that supplies much of the gas to independently owned stations in the area. It also makes reformulated summer grades of gasoline, a type of fuel that's been in short supply.

If the plant stays closed for more than a few days, gas stations scrambling to replace their supply lines will bid up prices on the wholesale market and will pass along the higher costs to customers, spokesmen for refiners and gas stations said.

"We don't know what's wrong or what caused it, so we don't have any estimates on when the unit will be up and running," said Kate Robbins, a spokesman for Citgo Petroleum headquarters in Tulsa, Okla.

Firefighters were still pouring water into the refinery later Tuesday and the complex remained too hot for Citgo workers to enter to assess the damage. "I don't think we're talking about a several-day problem, I think this is probably going to be a significant outage for some period of time as yet undetermined," said Dave Sykuta, executive director of the Illinois Petroleum Council.

No one was injured in the fire, which started around 2:30 a.m. and was struck out at 10:30 a.m. It hit an area where crude oil is processed. "Obviously, if you're going to cripple a refinery, this is one of the most critical spots because, if you can't operate the crude unit, you can't make gasoline," Sykuta said.

The plant is the smallest of the three refineries in the Chicago area, but it still turned 155,000 barrels of crude oil into about 2.6 million gallons of gasoline every day. All of that gasoline went to independently owned stations, including those that operate under the Citgo name but are owned by independent operators.

While the refinery might be able to keep its stations' tanks full for a few days by using gasoline that's already in storage, the independent stations will soon have to turn to the open market to buy their supplies, which experts said would push up prices at all gas stations.

"My members tell me that if this refinery shuts down for any length of time, they're afraid it's going to upset the Chicago and mid-state supply," said Bill Fleischli, vice president of the Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association.

A fire in May that closed a downstate refinery fire for two weeks helped to boost area prices from $1.78 a gallon to over $2 a gallon, said Nora Cooper, spokeswoman for the AAA-Chicago Motor Club.

And the fact that the Citgo refinery made gasoline especially formulated to meet federal Clean Air Act regulations for the Chicago area could add to the supply squeeze. "Of the 150 or so refineries in the United States, only a handful make 'Chicago' fuel," said Sykuta. "So anytime something happens to one of those refineries, the impact is magnified."

Even before the fire, gas prices already were on the rise. After dropping a whopping 53 cents a gallon, on average, in July, the price of self-serve regular gasoline in Chicago and Cook County rose 15 cents from last month and stands at $1.588, according to the AAA- Chicago Motor Club.

A slowing economy and a glut of refined product led many producers to shut down refineries for badly needed maintenance, reducing supplies in the face of decreasing demand, Cooper said. Also, rumors of OPEC moves to tighten supplies have boosted crude oil prices, she said.

-- Andre Weltman (, August 15, 2001.

Thank you, Andre.

-- Rachel Gibson (, August 16, 2001.

Fire at Illinois refinery likely to raise gas prices Associated Press Thursday, August 16, 2001

MILWAUKEE -- Gasoline prices in the Chicago-Milwaukee market are expected to rise after a fire shut down a major refinery in northern Illinois.

Industry analysts expect Tuesday's incident at a Citgo refinery in Romeoville, Ill., will put a significant crimp in the supply of reformulated gas, but they were unsure how long that will lost or how high prices will rise.

Bob Bartlett, spokesman for Wisconsin gas station dealers, said Wednesday that the wholesale price for Citgo dealers effective today was 13 cents higher than the day of the fire.

``It's not good,'' said Bartlett, executive vice president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of Wisconsin/Wisconsin Association of Convenience Stores. ``Retail prices typically follow wholesale prices.''

The cost of a gallon of regular unleaded fuel in Wisconsin increased to $1.48 Wednesday, 8 cents higher than the statewide average a month ago, according to the American Automobile Association.

Erin Roth, executive director of the Wisconsin Petroleum Council, said the fire hit one of only four refineries that supply the Chicago- Milwaukee market.

George Gaspar, oil industry analyst for Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee, said refiners already had cut their outputs after prices and profit margins dipped earlier in the summer, so the effects of the fire will be enhanced.

``We're in the $1.40 to $1.50 a gallon range,'' Gaspar said of current pump prices. ``With an outage, it could go to $1.60,'' he said.

Citgo is working to bring the Illinois refinery back on line, but no timetable has been set. Company spokesman Kent Young said Citgo was seeking alternate sources from Gulf Coast supplies to meet its contractual obligations.

He said the cause of the fire had not been determined. story=84737136&template=business_a_cache

-- Doris (, August 17, 2001.

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