RICHMOND -- The fire at Chevron's refinery that broke out Monday has caused one of the units at the plant to be shut down, the San Ramon-based energy giant said Tuesday.

"The number four crude unit was affected," said Brent Tippen, a spokesman for Chevron. "That unit is down."

Chevron did not provide immediate information about the overall production status of the Richmond refinery,

"There are not that many refineries in the state, so California is very reliant on the Richmond refinery," said Christopher Thornberg, principal economist and founding partner with Beacon Economics. "So you could definitely see an effect on gasoline prices."

The Richmond refinery can process up to 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The plant is the Bay Area's largest refinery.

"If the refinery is disrupted for an extended period of time, there would be an effect on gasoline prices on the West Coast," said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst with investment firm Raymond James. "The effect on California fuel prices is likely to be meaningful."

Contact George Avalos at 925-977-8477. Follow him at twitter.com/george_avalos.



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