California Refiners Export Gasoline as Prices Zoom Statewide;

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Price Manipulation Charged By Consumer Advocates

Santa Monica, CA — A consumer group called on state legislators to respond to new state government data showing oil companies are slowing production and exporting supply to drive up the price of gasoline. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) called on legislative leaders and the Governor to immediately consider regulation of the state’s refiners by the public utilities commission and pass legislation returning windfall profits to motorists via rebate.

Read FTCR’s report with details on some of these proposals.

The California Energy Commission reported this week that oil refineries in the state produced 10.3% less gasoline and diesel fuel week-to-week for use in-state, “tightening the market and causing spot prices for California-use gasoline to jump 22 cents between April 10 and April 17.”

Not only was less fuel produced overall, but some refiners switched production from California’s low-smog gasoline formula to gasoline for other states including Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. The supply of export gasoline increased by a startling 38.5%.

Although inventories are very slightly above the level this time last year, the week-to-week production cut and the switch to more export gasoline inevitably pushed market prices higher, in tandem with rising crude oil prices.

“Oil companies as usual cite dubious unplanned shutdowns or ‘routine maintenance’ as their reason for restricting the supply of gasoline in California, but the switch to export, in the face of gasoline prices rising well over $3.00 for regular in many locations, is completely indefensible,” said Judy Dugan, research director for FTCR. “This is classic price manipulation. Only by providing a generous supply of gasoline in the state could refiners help to stabilize these unaffordable prices. Their intent is clearly the opposite.”

The refineries’ drop in production comes on the heels of an April 18 report from FTCR, by independent oil industry analyst Tim Hamilton, that most of the increasing price of gasoline is pure profit for the refiners — that the price of crude oil justifies less than a quarter of recent price increases, even before the latest price spike.

Read the report and news release.

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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California’s leading nonpartisan and nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. For more information, visit us on the web at:

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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