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Impacts of Suncor refinery shutdown reflected in Colorado fuel prices

Suncor's refinery is responsible for 35% to 40% of the state’s gas and diesel market and will be closed until March.
colorado gas price 2-2-23
Posted at 9:00 PM, Feb 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-03 00:45:02-05

If you noticed a sharp spike in gas prices recently, it's not just you.

"Over the past month, prices have jumped, at a nationwide level, about 30 cents. In the same period, they've jumped a dollar in Colorado. That's a noticeable difference," said Skyler McKinley with the American Automobile Association (AAA).

According to AAA, the average for a gallon of regular unleaded last month in Colorado was $2.91. The current average is $3.89. Denver7 crews were able to find locations selling for up to $4.19 a gallon. puts Colorado as one of the states with the highest gas prices in country.

"We've also repeatedly been in the top 10 markets last week. We were the 8th most expensive price at an average level. Now we're the 5th. Let's hope that doesn't climb any further," said McKinley.

According to AAA, the reason behind the rise in prices is a combination of things. The usual factors like demand and the economy, but also right now, Colorado is taking a major hit.

"The Suncor refinery outside Commerce City, which supplies about 35% to 40% of all the refined gas that we use as a state, is down. It's going to continue to be down until March," said McKinley. "How quickly [gas prices] are rising in Colorado is almost entirely attributable to the fact that we lost a lot of our supply here in the state. It just costs more to truck, train and pipeline fuel into Colorado than refined it on site."

A series of safety concerns prompted the shutdown.

The company is making proper repairs and told Denver7 it is on schedule to re-open the refinery for the end of the first quarter. Officials declined to comment on impacts to gas prices, saying, "Suncor is unable to speak to future fuel prices, which are based on a number of constantly changing factors and market forces. These factors include the number of suppliers who will provide gas to the Colorado market and the volume supplied to meet demand."

The timing for the March re-opening might not offer much relief for drivers.

"That's the time of the year, generally, when we start to see gas prices tick up anyway because of seasonal demands. It is in the springtime when folks go on spring vacation and into the summer months," said McKinley.

To save some money, he suggests combining trips and chores so you aren't going home and then leaving again, carpool, or considering taking public transportation once a week.

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