Gas Prices Impact Midwest; Calumet Also Temporarily Shut Down

By KBJR News 1

May 16, 2013 Updated May 16, 2013 at 7:06 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Chicago and Joliet refineries are not the only ones in the region undergoing scheduled repairs.

Superior's Calumet refinery has also been undergoing routine maintenance.

Every five years, the Calumet refinery shuts down from mid–April though the end of May for cleaning and repair work on plant equipment.

Calumet stock–piles enough gasoline to ensure a reliable supply for customers during the shutdown.

According to Plant manager Dave Podratz, this shutdown contributes somewhat to the increase in gas prices, though on a very small scale.

Calumet officials say when the national supply of gas goes down, prices increase.

When national prices go up, Calumet must increase its prices as well because Podratz says if they don't suppliers won't send oil to the superior facility.

He says, instead, they will re–direct the supply to facilities willing to charge the going rate.

"You've got to make sure to attract supply into the Midwest. You've got to get the refineries on the Gulf Coast or the East Coast to start shipping product this way. The way that works in the free market is if there is a high price here, people are going to ship the fuel here," Dave Podratz, Calumet Plant Manager, said.

Podratz says prices depend on where the fuel outages are occurring and nationally, the Midwest is taking the brunt of the fuel price spike.

The plant manager says the transportation cost on simply getting the fuel to Superior also adds to the price of gas.

Justin Reis, NNC.