DENVER (KDVR) — Concerns continue about the effects of the Suncor closure, as Colorado’s only refinery makes up a large portion of the local market for fuel.
Gov. Jared Polis has taken action to help protect the supply chain by activating the State Emergency Operations Plan, according to a Saturday announcement from his office.
The plan will help “ensure that the state utilizes all necessary tools to provide temporary regulatory relief to reduce any potential fuel supply chain risk in Colorado” because of the Suncor shutdown, Polis’ office said in a release.
Polis “verbally authorized” the plan. It directs the Office of Emergency Management “to take necessary and appropriate state actions to assist the affected jurisdictions with their response, recovery, and mitigation efforts,” according to the governor’s office.
“Such regulatory relief includes but is not limited to trucking hours, truck weight limits, and streamlined pipeline transporting regulations,” the release states.
What does the Suncor refinery produce in Colorado?
Suncor’s refinery in Commerce City is expected to stay closed for months, possibly through March. The Canadian petroleum company announced the closure after a Dec. 24 fire at the refinery hurt two workers.
While Suncor did not mention the incident in its closure announcement, it said the refinery began to shut down the same day after extreme weather led to damaged equipment.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there are no ongoing threats to the public at this time, but the potential risks to the community will be evaluated during the investigation.
The refinery employs about 500 people. Suncor says it buys crude oil from the Denver-Julesburg Basin to process in Commerce City, selling 95% of the products within Colorado. That includes gasoline, diesel, paving asphalt and jet fuel, including about a third of the jet fuel used at Denver International Airport.
Suncor makes up 35-40% of the gasoline and diesel market, according to the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association.
The association expects wholesale and diesel prices to increase, with effects to reach retail consumers soon.