Southern California Gas Price Difference With U.S. Greatest In 15 Years; 3 Month Bill To Californians Hits $2.4 Billion as CA Oil Refining Profits Soar

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Santa Monica, CA — Gasoline price spikes cost Californians an extra $2.4 billion for their gasoline between February and April based on the average pump price paid by the average American.  

Southern Californians are currently paying $4.00 per gallon for regular gas, $1.30 more than the national average – the widest gap ever recorded by the federal government’s Energy Information Agency.

Prices at the pump have skyrocketed 69 cents in one month due to gasoline shortages and refinery outages. Oil refiners saw sky-high profits in the first quarter of 2015 when the refinery outages began, as Consumer Watchdog's latest report, Refining Profits explained.

Read that report here:

Valero, one of California's largest refiners, reported California refining profits of $82 million, over triple their average quarterly profits over the last five years. Tesoro, who dealt with a steelworkers strike and had to idle one of their refineries still had healthy profits of over $100 million in California.

“California’s oil refiners are the only industry in America that make a fortune when their factories go down,” said Jamie Court, President of Consumer Watchdog. “Oil company CEOs are boasting to investors on conference calls about huge West Coast profits from their refinery outages while refusing to appear before state legislators.  Why would oil refiners ever fix their refinery problems if it’s making them a fortune? It’s time for legislative reform.”

A new video released today by Tom Steyer’s NextGen takes on the CEOs’ silence and calls for subpoenas.

Watch the video at:

Prices are set to rise still more as Phillips 66 started maintenance on its Los Angeles refinery. Industry analysts reported that maintenance on the refinery’s hydrocracker was moved up from three weeks in June because of a breakdown at a nearby hydrogen plant that supplies the gasoline component to refineries.

The California Senate last week asked new questions of the CEOs of the state’s top oil refiners who refused to appear at a state hearing in March. A letter from State Senators Jim Beall & Ben Hueso to oil company CEOs noted that outages often lead to price spikes, and asked,  “Has your company taken any specific steps to reduce the potential for production delays – outages or slowdowns – at California refineries?”

Read the letter at

The letter from Senators Hueso and Beall, was sent to the CEOs of Exxon, Chevron, Tesoro, Shell, Valero, Alon USA, and Phillips 66 with a request to prepare written responses to their questions about why retail price spikes frequently coincide with low reserves of refined product and refinery outages and what companies can do to blunt them.

The letter asks CEOs to prepare answers to questions, including:

•How many days of supply each refinery maintains

•How California gasoline reserves compare nationally

•How oil companies schedule refinery maintenance 

•Why retail gasoline prices rise when competing refineries are out


Jamie Court
Jamie Court
Consumer Watchdog's President and Chairman of the Board is an award-winning and nationally recognized consumer advocate. The author of three books, he has led dozens of campaigns to reform insurance companies, financial institutions, energy companies, political accountability and health care companies.

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