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Attorney General issues subpoenas to refiners over gasoline prices

Published by
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that major California oil refiners are receiving subpoenas related to manipulating the gasoline supply to raise gasoline prices in the state.

Consumer Watchdog provided evidence to the California Attorney General's office one year ago that refiners were using their market leverage to keep gasoline prices more than US$1.00 above the US average. The nonprofit group first wrote Attorney General Harris calling for an investigation on 6 February 2015 following suspicious refinery outages, then again on 18 February on the day of the Exxon Torrance explosion.

Californians paid more than US$10 billion extra at the pump during 2015 compared to US drivers because of inflated gasoline prices and record refiner profits. Consumer Watchdog presented repeated testimony to a California Energy Commission taskforce, which included the Attorney General's anti-trust chief, demonstrating supply and price manipulation by California oil refiners.

"California drivers have paid billions extra to pad the record profits of California oil refiners, It's past time for answers to the question of why refiners kept California running on empty so that they could charge usone dollar more per gallon at the pump," said Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court. "We're pleased that a formal legal inquiry with potential consequences is underway. California's oil refiners will continue to gouge the Golden State until there are consequences for their actions. Oil refiners need to answer for perennial supply shortages, inflated prices and record California refining profits in 2015."

Consumer Watchdog has pointed to the failure of refiners to import product, excessive exports, inability to keep refineries running, and refiners' ability to overcharge branded stations in Southern California as ways of artificially inflating prices.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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