No immediate gas price hike expected after refinery closure, experts say

Experts: No immediate gas price hike expected after refinery closure
Published: Jan. 8, 2013 at 9:11 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2013 at 9:20 AM HST
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Most energy experts Hawaii News Now spoke with Tuesday said they do not expect the price of gas at the pump in Hawaii to jump because of the shutdown of Tesoro's refinery in Kapolei.

"In normal circumstances, there would be no problem, because there are plenty of refined products in the global market.  But if there is a global issue in terms of supply, then of course, if you have to buy the products, it's more difficult," said Fereidun Fesharaki, an energy expert who works for FACTS Global Energy, a consulting group.

So now, Hawaii will rely on refined fuel from the mainland or Asian markets much more than before.

"To be dependent on another source for it takes away from a little bit of our self-determination in Hawaii," said Barney Robinson, who owns two Chevron dealerships in Nuuanu and Waialae "We're going to rely on places that are far away and something may happen over there that may have an impact here in Hawaii. So, yeah, that's probably not a good thing."

"The immediate effects aren't going to be known until we actually get there and see how the supply is going to be impacted and where our new sources are going to be coming from and all those factors will determine whether it's going to go up or down or stay the same," Robinson.

Experts said Hawaii fuel prices here will be impacted by crude oil prices on the West Coast more than before, which could even mean Hawaii's gas prices might go down.

"If they do have a surplus, and that's causing the prices to be lower than they are here, obviously, then we might have a lower price," said Bill Green, the man who owned Kahala Shell for 30 years and worked for the Shell company for 30 years before that.

"But I just don't see any of those scenarios as being like all of a sudden we're going to have a 20-cent a gallon increase, which is a big scare," Green said.

Green also spoke about a scenario where gas prices in Hawaii could rise because of fluctuations in prices on the mainland.

"If their economy on the West Coast begins to grow, then you're gonna have a shortage of refined product there.  If that happens, then you're going to go to the world market which would be Asia and who knows what that would be.  So that potentially could raise the price there," Green said.

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