State Commission Given Evidence Oil Refiners Artificially Hiking Gas Prices

California Energy Commission data reveals that a recent and sustained 30 cents gap between what price oil refiners sell gas to their branded stations and the price they offered to independent stations is unprecedented statewide. 
Over the last 16 years, the difference averaged three cents, according to a Consumer Watchdog analysis. Branded stations must buy gas at whatever price a refiner sets.
For the last two weeks, the average wholesale or “rack” price in Los Angeles that California oil refiners have charged branded stations is ten times more per gallon than the price charged to unbranded stations. Independent stations are now hiking their prices to match branded stations, artificially inflating the gasoline price in the state. 

Similar price gaps have been reported at racks across the state, including in the Bay Area.

Today, at a meeting of the state commission charged with investigating gas price manipulation, the Petroleum Market Advisory Committee, Consumer Watchdog presented the analysis, noting that the tactics could violate both federal anti-trust laws and an agreement Tesoro struck with the California Attorney General. 

In the case of Tesoro, the price difference charged to Arco stations appears to violate a deal made in 2013 with Attorney General Kamala Harris when the company was allowed to purchase all of the Southern California ARCO stations from BP in 2013. In a letter describing the agreement, the Attorney General’s office stated, “Tesoro has agreed to maintain Arco’s status as a low cost fuel provider.”

Read Consumer Watchdog's letter to the AG here: 

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