Commerce City refinery teams review potential damage, impact
DENVER – Officials at a massive oil refinery outside Denver said Monday they still don’t know what caused a power outage that disrupted production Sunday and Monday, but said they don’t expect the shutdown to affect prices at the gas pump.Steve Douglas, general manager for the Suncor USA, which operates the facility in Commerce City, said the refinery was expected to be fully operational by late Monday or early Tuesday.The plant processes some 90,000 barrels of crude oil a day, providing 35 percent of Colorado’s gasoline supply and more than 50 percent of the state’s diesel. The plant also makes asphalt for paving, jet fuel for planes at Denver International Airport and a variety of other petroleum products.The plant lost power unexpectedly about 9 a.m. Sunday. Because of safety concerns, Douglas said inspectors had to inspect every area of the plant and return power slowly. It can take a day and a half to two days to return a refinery to service after a sudden shutdown, he said.”It really isn’t just a matter of flipping a switch,” he said.Because the disruption occurred during the slow winter driving season, Douglas said he didn’t expect a pinch at the pump.”Essentially, what it does is eat into our safety stock of inventory,” he said. “It really shouldn’t affect customers.”Douglas said the company typically tries to build up a reserve supply during the winter in anticipation of the summer driving season.Suncor, based in Canada, markets unbranded fuels to large consumers, such as Denver’s public transit agency, as well as to consumers through its Phillips 66 stations.Douglas said there were no injuries, leaks or damage to the plant as a result of the power outage. He said crews have determined the outage was the result of something that went wrong outside the plant, not an internal breakdown. He said technicians are trying to figure out what went wrong.The Colorado Department of Health and Environment was notified of the disruption, the company said.
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