Oil refining's perception problem has taken a new, unflattering turn: Not only are there not enough U.S. refineries, they don't run right.
After several years of calls for more production capacity in one of the world's most technically sophisticated industries, attention has shifted to what appears to be an unusual number of breakdowns and extended downtime that has raised concerns about the adequacy of oil-product supplies.
Just about every day in recent weeks, a period when refineries ramp up production, unit malfunctions, fires and other mishaps have had oil traders and market watchers riveted. Oil futures and wholesale prices have staged breathtaking rallies that traders say are due to the prospect of lost supply and falling inventories.
This is an issue the US will have to come to grips with over the next few years. So long as the US is dependent on gas for a variety of necessary economic functions all of the parties involved -- but primarily business and environmental concerns -- are going to have to figure out a way to deal with the situation.