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Possible refinery price manipulation hearings

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Consumer Watchdog has said that it is looking forward to working with US Senate lawmakers who have set hearings for March on possible refinery price manipulation, as the group requested. Liza Tucker, Consumer Advocate said, “gas prices have gone up 70 cents so far since refineries started shutting down and it is high time we had refinery executives on the hot seat to answer questions. We have a long list of questions. And if the Senate don’t get the answers they are asking for, we are hoping they will issue subpoenas.”

Consumer Watchdog has called twice this month for the California Attorney General and other officials to investigate possible price manipulation, but has not yet received an answer.

Martinez and Torrance

Tesoro announced that it would shutdown the Martinez refinery fully, rather than continue to partially operate, in the face of a steelworker’s strike at the beginning of this month. The explosion and fire at the Exxon Torrance refinery that came on the heels of the closure helped prices spike more. Tucker said, “Tesoro’s potentially unnecessary closure of its Martinez facility in the face of a steelworkers’ strike, and shoddy business practices at refineries like Exxon’s, have tripped off a sharp rise in gas prices.”

The shutdown of the Martinez refinery, paired with damage to the Torrance facility, affects 16.5% of California’s refining capacity. The state’s refineries make virtually all the gas sold in the state due to its special blend requirements. The refineries also keep only a 10 day supply of gas on hand, while refineries in most other states average 24 days.

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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