Oil refinery profits investigation launched
By Caitilin McAdoo, Bay City News Service
April 28, 2006
Attorney General Bill Lockyer has announced plans to subpoena
documents tomorrow from all 21 California oil refineries relevant
to an investigation into whether the companies have been profiteering
and gouging prices.
"Its time that the oil companies fork over the information
needed for us to determine the extent to which they are unjustly
enriching themselves at the expense of drivers," said spokesman
for Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office Tom Dresslar.
Five of the largest California refineries are in the Bay Area,
including Chevron-Texaco in Richmond, Shell in Martinez, Valero
in Benicia, ConocoPhillips-Rodeo in San Francisco and Tesoro Golden
Eagle in Martinez, according to Dresslar.
Shell spokesman Dave Parker said that Shell had no comment at
this time on the subpoenas. Other Bay Area refineries that were
contacted did not immediately return phone calls.
Dresslar said that the important difference between this investigation
and previous investigations is that Lockyer, who is currently
running for state treasurer, has assembled a team of experts to
analyze all potential law enforcement options available.
In the past, Department of Justice investigators have focused
their attention on anti-trust enforcement, which requires them
to find concrete evidence of collusion, according to Dresslar.
They are currently looking at oil refinery profits from a broader
perspective, he said.
According to information released by Lockyer's office, the seven
largest oil companies in California control more than 95 percent
of the state's refining capacity and California refiners' profit
margins have far outstripped the national average.
According to the California Energy Commission, the current difference
between the price oil companies pay for crude oil and the price
consumers pay at the pump is 130 percent. The price for crude,
however, has only risen 14 percent, according to Lockyer's office.
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