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Repairs complete, BP refinery in Washington state reopens

Alaska Dispatch

A temporarily shut-down BP refinery in Washington state that contributed to oil tankers returning to Valdez, Alaska with petroleum aboard has reopened. The Cherry Point refinery near Blaine, Wash., was shut down for three months for repairs and maintenance after a Feb. 17 fire damaged the refinery.

In late April, a 940-foot tanker returned to Valdez with 300,000 barrels of oil it couldn't deliver to Washington refineries because onshore storage tanks there were full. Other tankers encountered similar problems.

"Valdez inventories are pretty high. Our inventories are high. Nobody is taking much crude on the West Coast," Bill Kidd, a spokesman with the BP refinery in Washington, said at the time.

Cherry Point’s temporary shut-down has been mentioned as one reason why gasoline prices are higher on the West Coast and in Alaska than other parts of the nation.

The third-largest refinery on the West Coast, Cherry Point produces 20 percent of Washington's gasoline needs, according to the Associated Press, and supplies the majority of jet fuel for Sea-Tac, Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia, airports.

Check this Alaska Dispatch story about high fuel prices in Western Alaska -- and how new competition may have an effect.