Colorado refinery preparing to reopen, but experts predict gas prices will remain high

Despite the increase in supply, experts say an increase in springtime travel will keep gas prices relatively high in the coming month.
Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 8:21 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2023 at 5:12 AM MST
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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (KKTV) - A Colorado gas refinery is planning to reopen, but experts said they don’t expect prices to dip that much.

The Suncor Refinery in Commerce City shut down over the winter after taking some damage from a cold snap. This was a nationwide phenomenon which, paired with increased holiday travel, caused a steep increase in gas prices nationwide. In Colorado, the shutdown of Suncor created an added impact, according to GasBuddy.

On Friday, Suncor announced its plans to restart two of its plants. They had originally announced that they had plans to reopen by the end of March. According to their website, they are planning to reopen two plants, after restarting one in February.

But for months, experts at AAA and GasBuddy have predicted minimal impact for this reopening.

“It will take some time for prices to stabilize,” said Skyler McKinely with AAA in February, “and the bad news is that even if Suncor were to get everything up and running by the end of March by early April, as they promised, I wouldn’t expect gas prices to fall off a cliff.”

Now closer to the reopening, McKinley is saying the state average could end up dropping below the national average in April as the state gets more supply. However, with more people expected to start traveling, he said it will be less of a significant drop in state prices, and more of a slight drop in Colorado and slight rise in national averages, causing prices to meet in the middle.

“March is a big month, we see a lot of domestic travel, folks actually getting on airplane,” McKinley said. “So, we will see some spike in gas prices around mid-March as folks begin to travel to and through Colorado as a function of spring break.”

If prices drop, McKinley said it likely won’t be as significant as many might hope for.

But drivers said they hope to see a drop sooner rather than later.

“I gotta work my butt off to make ends meet now with fuel prices going up,” said John Pike, a local resident. “I just pray to God it goes down.”

Through the start of March, averages remained largely steady nationwide, with Colorado’s average being higher than the nation’s.

Suncor Energy said they expect to be fully operational by the end of March.