Colorado gas prices up 51% since Suncor refinery shut down

Gas prices in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region continue to climb as the Suncor Energy refinery in Commerce City undergoes repairs following its late-December shutdown.

The average retail price of gasoline increased 51% in Colorado and 27% in the Rocky Mountain region between the end of December and Feb. 20, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report released Tuesday. The average price of a gallon of gas in Colorado rose by $1.39 to $4.10 as of Feb. 20, the report said.

On Tuesday, AAA showed Colorado gas prices ranked among the highest in the country, averaging $4.05 a gallon. The national average on Tuesday was $3.36 per gallon.

Suncor’s trouble began on the evening of Dec. 21 when temperatures plummeted during an extreme cold spell. The subzero weather caused a malfunction that rippled across the plant and forced the company to cease production.

The energy company restarted one of its three Commerce City production plants earlier this month but that hasn’t slowed rising gas prices. The company has said it plans to be fully operational by the end of March.

Suncor’s refinery, the only one in Colorado, refines 103,000 barrels of oil per day when it’s running at its peak, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. Since the closure, gasoline is being trucked into Colorado from refineries in other western states or pulled through pipelines from other gas-producing regions in the United States.

Rocky Mountain inventories of gasoline and diesel fuel started the year well below the five-year average, the administration’s report said. Those low inventories are creating more uncertainty as Colorado needs more fuel from other areas.

The higher prices also may stimulate increased production in Utah and Wyoming to compensate for the loss of Suncor’s production and to meet the demand for gasoline in Colorado.

Colorado is the most populous state in the Rocky Mountain region and accounted for 41% of all gasoline sales in the region in 2021. The state also accounted for 25% of jet fuel and diesel sales, according to the Energy Information Administration’s refinery capacity report.

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