DETROIT (AP) — Prices at the pump remain up across the Great Lakes region because of the unexpected, partial shutdown of a large Indiana oil refinery.
The BP Whiting Refinery in northern Indiana shut down the largest of three crude distillation units Saturday for what the company in a statement called “unscheduled repair work.” BP says that the rest of the refinery is operating at reduced production.
“It’s a big deal,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s senior petroleum analyst. “It’s the region’s largest refinery made up of multiple units, and this is the largest unit. … The market is certainly (experiencing) some panic buying, and that’s represented in retail prices.”
Dearborn-based AAA Michigan, which surveys prices at 2,800 Michigan gas stations, said Thursday morning the statewide average was about $2.80 a gallon, about 22 cents more than Wednesday’s average but down about 75 cents from a year ago.
According to GasBuddy.com, the most affected states are Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois, but others, including Minnesota and Wisconsin, also saw increases.
The price spikes come after many industry analysts forecast significant drops. GasBuddy recently predicted decreases to accelerate from Labor Day through the fall, with ample supplies on hand.
“I believe this refinery issue to be a speed bump — albeit a large speed bump — on the road to lower prices,” DeHaan said. “I still expect gas prices to come down … and, as we approach Christmas, could still knock on the door of $2 a gallon.”