RICHMOND -- The permit process to approve a replacement or repair of the fire-scarred Crude Unit No. 4 at Chevron's Richmond refinery could take "months" to complete, a top city official said.

That estimate, from Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay, suggests that Chevron might not be back in full operation for three to six months. It's unknown how long repairs might take once the permits are approved.

"I would expect it's going to take some months," Lindsay said. "That's just a guess. It could be several months."

At present, the Chevron refinery is operating at 60 percent capacity, according to several industry experts, including Montana-based analyst Bob van der Valk.

With much of the refinery's fuel production capacity knocked out, gasoline prices have jumped in recent days. By late Monday, they had reached an average of $4.08 a gallon in California, $4.18 in San Francisco, $4.12 in the South Bay and $4.10 in the East Bay, according to online site GasBuddy.

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