Report to Come out Thursday Suggests ‘Enron’ Style Manipulation of West Coast Gas Prices
The video is from the Enron tapes of two traders colluding to defraud the electricity market in California
Just what we’ve suspected seems to have been confirmed. From Kevin G. Hall of McClatchy
West Coast gasoline price spikes in May and October were widely blamed on refinery outages, but new research to be released at a California hearing Thursday shows that refiners continued to produce gasoline in periods when the public was told the contrary.
The information, shared exclusively with McClatchy, comes from Oregon-based McCullough Research, which combed through thousands of pages of environmental documents to conclude that refineries were in fact operating during supposed outages and maintenance shutdowns.
The two primary malefactors were Shell, and Chevron
Specifically, the report alleges that in May, at a time when Royal Dutch Shell’s Martinez, Calif., plant was reported to be down for maintenance for two weeks, it appears to have been making gasoline for at least half that time. That conclusion is reached from state environmental documents showing nitrogen oxide emissions had returned to normal at the refinery a full week before it was reported to have come back on line.
Similarly, Chevron’s Richmond, Calif., refinery was reported down for maintenance for two weeks in May, but emissions data suggests the refinery never ceased operation.
The report doesn’t prove collusion, but it certainly calls into question their motives, if not pure unadulterated greed by the few extortionist suppliers of gasoline.
The hearing will be held by the state’s Senate Select Committee on Bay Area Transportation. And though California is the focus, the conclusions carry national implications, especially because they highlight how little real information on pricing is publicly available, or even available to regulators.
“It certainly does not prove collusion among the principal suppliers, since specific data by refineries is difficult to procure,” McCullough’s report said. “However, the data does suggest the need for an investigation on a refinery-by-refinery level.”