COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (KDVR) — Colorado’s only petroleum refinery is preparing to restart full operations, which could be good news for gas prices.

Suncor has been closed for a little over two months after a Christmas Eve fire injured two employees. 

After slowly reopening Plant 2 at the start of February, Suncor announced it’s now preparing to restart operations for Plants 1 and 3.

Suncor did not give FOX31 a specific timeline, but the company expects to return to full operations by late March. 

Gas prices jumped 16% from December-January

Stephan Weiler, a professor of economics at Colorado State University, said 30% of gasoline for Denver comes from Suncor, along with the majority of the Front Range.  

“Suncor definitely has an impact on gas prices, particularly at the margin,” Weiler said. “It’s not all of the fuel we get, but it’s enough of the fuel that it can actually bring prices down when they open up their spigots and bring prices up when they close them.”

Between December and January, Weiler said prices jumped up 16% in the Denver metro area relative to a 3% increase in the United States. 

“In rural areas, it’s even worse because they’re much farther away from everything, so gas prices actually matter a lot more to rural residents than they do to the metro area,” Weiler said.

Depending on when the plants are back up and running, Weiler said Coloradans could see a drop in prices at the pump.

“I think there is a chance, especially because they’re willing to announce it publicly, that they’re going back online,” Weiler said. “I think there is a chance we could see gas prices coming down in the next few weeks.”

Drivers see gas budget rise by hundreds

This is good news for those struggling now to budget for gas. 

“It hits on the monthly budget,” said Brad, a Colorado resident. “I went from $100-$200 a month to around $400-$500 a month.” 

His pain is shared by many. 

“I’ve never seen it this high,” said James, another Colorado resident. “It’d be nice to get back around to under 4 (dollars). I think that’s a real number to shoot for at this point.”  

Suncor declined FOX31’s request for an interview but provided the following response: 

“Suncor is continuing the progressive restart of the Commerce City refinery following extreme and record-setting weather that resulted in equipment damage late last year. Consistent with our commitment to operational excellence and safe operating practice, the entire facility was shut down and put into safe mode to allow for the inspection of all units and repair of damaged equipment.

As we shared on February 9, we have restarted Plant 2. We’re now preparing for the restart of Plant 1 and Plant 3. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be safely and steadily increasing production with an expected return to full operations by late March.

During this time, there may be increased flaring, noise and traffic. We are taking precautions to ensure these disruptions are kept to a minimum. We are also continuously monitoring air quality in the community through CCND Air at and our fenceline monitoring program ( Our fenceline monitoring program is in addition to continuous emissions monitoring conducted within the refinery.

As part of our work in preparing for a safe and reliable restart, we have completed external and internal inspections of all refinery process units and utilities systems, such as electricity, steam and water, which are needed to operate the refinery.

The investigation into the events related to the shutdown is ongoing.

We appreciate the patience of our neighbors and all those who rely on our products as we work through repairs and safely return our facility to normal operations.”


Gov. Jared Polis recently extended an emergency declaration related to the Suncor shutdown, which provides some regulatory relief to help with Colorado’s fuel supply.