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West Coast oil exports and supply shortages

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Consumer Watchdog has reportedly analysed Energy Information Administration (EIA) data and has said that oil companies exported more gasoline from the West Coast to foreign nations in the month of December last year than ever in the nation’s history. The exports came just one month before California apparently experienced a supply crisis that has raised gasoline prices in California over a dollar above the national average, the largest difference in history.

Californians paid US$3.6 billion more for their gasoline than the average US motorise based on the added pump price from February through May and consumption, Consumer Watchdog has reported. At the moment gasoline prices in the state stand at US$3.59/gal. 84 cents more than the national average. Cody Rosenfield, an advocate for Consumer Watchdog said, “oil companies created a shortage by selling abroad, and then shutting down refineries, and have made billions at the expense of Californians who are paying a huge premium due to the state’s low inventories.”

During December last year, West Coast refiners reportedly exported 2.7 million bbls, or 113 million gals. of gasoline. The exports also constituted the most exports in a quarter, ever. During the last quarter of 2014, oil companies exported an amount that represents almost a third of California’s current gasoline supply. Consumer Watchdog has said that it will supply the new evidence to state senate investigators and regulators.

The exports set the stage for the price spikes that affected California. After record exports, refineries started shutting down at an unprecedented rate. Gas prices reported spiked as much as a reported US$1.30 gap with US gas price due to low inventories. It has also now been reported that oil companies are continuing to export significant amounts of gasoline from the West Coast. In the first quarter of this year, despite record price spikes. Refiners have exported another 4.1 million bbls of gasoline, Consumer Watchdog has said, one of the top 10 export quarters in history.

Consumer Watchdog has also said that exporting product is one of a number of ways that California and other Western state refiners have rigged the market for huge profits. A series of suspicious refinery closures and slowdowns preceded the current price spike. Also, the association has said that according to industry insiders, some of the maintenance schedules were inexplicably moved forward, despite a lack of local supply.

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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