Chevron said Monday that it could be another month before it fully reopens the 85,000-barrel-a-day oil pipeline that until Sept. 19 carried Kern County crude to Bay Area refineries.
The company shut down the pipeline because of organic chloride contamination. There was no word Monday on the source of the common oil field solvent, which can corrode refineries and devalue any oil it comes into contact with.
"Chevron Pipe Line Company is still in the process of flushing the KLM pipe line of organic chlorides, and continues to work with stakeholders and keep them informed of plans to bring the line to normal operations," Chevron spokesman Gareth Johnstone wrote in an email.
A spokeswoman for the California Energy Commission said the closure is probably not affecting gasoline prices.
Members of Kern's oil industry, however, said the situation has driven up costs as some producers are forced to hire trucking companies to carry their crude to market.
Industry people said companies without access to Kern's two other northbound oil pipelines have stored as much product as possible in nearby tanks, while others may have no choice but to close some wells altogether.
Taft oilman Fred Holmes said the additional transportation costs were not excessive and that the most important thing was to "get the chemical out of the oil."
Oil marketer Bob Devine said last month that the shutdown has affected many producers. One impact has been a slowdown in alternative pipeline deliveries, he said, because operators of those installations must check for chlorides "to ensure they don't end up with the same problem as Chevron."