COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Suncor refinery will be closed for months after a fire that hurt two employees, and it will also have an impact on what you pay at the pump.

The refinery produces 98,000 barrels per day of gasoline, diesel fuel and paving-grade asphalt. Suncor makes up 35-40% of the gasoline and diesel market depending on the time of year, according to the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association.

With those high production numbers, local gas prices will increase as supply diminishes, experts say.

“This refinery shutdown will probably cause less supply to the tune of an impact of 10 to 20 cents a gallon,” said Patrick De Haan with GasBuddy. “The problem is there are so many factors going into gasoline prices and oil prices.”

And on the wholesale level, the increase is already there. Suncor produces about a third of the jet fuel for Denver International Airport. DIA officials have said they are learning more from Suncor, but at this point, they don’t know if or how much of an impact this will have on the airport.

Fuel price hike mitigation efforts in place

The Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association said measures have already been put in place for state-level mitigation. They expect the slope will happen in 10-14 days, but not in all parts of the state, mostly through the Interstate 70 mountain corridor and the Front Range. They say outsourcing other companies to flatten the curve will be necessary.

De Haan agreed, saying, “Refineries in Salt Lake City and Montana and the plain states are likely to make up part of the difference in the loss of this refinery, and so it’s going to impact prices beyond Colorado.”

The estimate now for the refinery to return to full operation sometime near the end of the first quarter of 2023, so possibly not until March.

Grier Bailey, with the petroleum marketers group, said “the association is extremely supportive of Suncor taking all necessary time to reopen safely. And while this may be a headache into the new year, there is no need to panic buy.

FOX31 also reached out to Earthjustice, a public-interest environmental law organization, about this shutdown.

“The Suncor refinery shutdown will offer a much-needed reprieve for the communities in North Denver and Commerce City that have faced disproportionate health impacts from the largest air polluter in the state for decades. Longer term relief from the refinery’s pollution is desperately needed. 

The fossil fuel industry has raked in record profits while continuing to poison communities across the country. The industry should not be passing any additional burden along to Colorado residents. 

This is yet another example of Suncor’s equipment failing and jeopardizing those who live near the refinery. The blame falls squarely on Suncor and the solution is to end our reliance on fossil fuels to avoid this chaos and ensure Colorado’s communities don’t continue to suffer.”

Ian Coghill, Earthjustice’s Rocky Mountain Office attorney