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Consumer Watchdog Calls For Criminal Investigation Of Refiners Over Study Showing False Info Led To $5 Per Gallon Gasoline



  Consumer Watchdog Calls For Criminal Investigation Of Refiners Over Study
               Showing False Info Led To $5 Per Gallon Gasoline

PR Newswire

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 15, 2012

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a letter
today, Consumer Watchdog called on California State Attorney General Kamala
Harris to launch a criminal investigation into the conduct of oil companies in
the state based on new information that oil refiners were running refineries
and building inventories even when they said that they were performing
maintenance.

The full letter follows below.

"It appears that California's oil refineries falsified public information to
drive up the price of gasoline, an allegation that, if true, is criminal
conduct and reminiscent of the Enron-like manipulation of the California
energy market," Consumer Watchdog's president Jamie Court and Energy Project
Director Liza Tucker wrote to Attorney General Harris. "This unprecedented
information demands a criminal investigation."

Consumer Watchdog reiterated its call for the AG to block the merger of Tesoro
and BP, pointing out that if Tesoro takes over BP's refinery in Carson, that
will leave two companies-Tesoro and Chevron-controlling 54 percent of
California's already overly concentrated gasoline market and exacting a heavy
price from consumers.

"Information we learned today only reinforces our call for blocking the
merger. McCullough Research reports today that refineries in the state were
making gasoline while telling the public that they weren't because of outages
or maintenance. McCullough Research analyzed thousands of pages of documents
and discovered refineries were operating during supposed outages and
maintenance shutdowns.

"McCullough says that in May, when Royal Dutch Shell's Martinez plant was
supposedly down for two weeks for maintenance, it was making gasoline at least
half the time. State air monitors showed nitrogen oxide emissions associated
with making gasoline returned to normal at that location a whole week before
the refinery reported coming back on line.

"At Chevron's Richmond refinery, emissions reports suggest that the refinery
never shut down, though it reported being down for two weeks in May. Supplies
were actually growing in May when consumers here paid at least 50 cents more
per gallon than the national average, the group said. October's huge price
hike that pushed gasoline up 50 cents a gallon in the space of a week was
partly blamed on Chevron's Richmond fire in August. But McCullough says that
Chevron's supplies at the time were only growing.

"When the state only has ten to thirteen days of gasoline supply on hand,
misinformation about a week's worth of gasoline can cost the consumer $1 per
gallon or more at the pump. False information can set the commodities markets
on fire. Oil companies know this well and their profits are dependent on
misaligned expectation in the commodities market. We urge you take action
immediately to prevent California consumers from being gouged by the same type
of artificial manipulation of the energy markets that occurred during
electricity deregulation."

Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization
with offices in Santa Monica, CA and Washington, DC. Find us online at
www.consumerwatchdog.org.

November 15, 2012

Attorney General Kamala Harris
Senior Assistant Attorney General Kathleen Foote
455 Golden Gate, Suite 11000
San Francisco, CA 94102-7004
Fax: 916-323-5341

RE: Criminal Investigation Of Refiners Needed Based On Study Showing
Falsification of Public Information

Dear Ms. Harris,

We write you to launch a criminal investigation into the conduct of oil
companies in California based on today's information that oil refiners were
running their refineries and building inventories even when they said they
were performing maintenance. It appears that California's oil refineries
falsified public information to drive up the price of gasoline, an allegation
that, if true, is criminal conduct and reminiscent of the Enron-like
manipulation of the California energy market. This unprecedented information
demands a criminal investigation.

We also call for you to block the merger of Tesoro and BP. As we have said, a
California refining market that is already concentrated and uncompetitive will
become a duopoly with Chevron and Tesoro controlling 54 percent of the market
if the merger goes through. Consumers will pay a heavy price at the pump.

Information we learned today only reinforces our call for blocking the merger.
McCullough Research reports today that refineries in the state were making
gasoline while telling the public that they weren't because of outages or
maintenance. McCullough Research analyzed thousands of pages of documents and
discovered refineries were operating during supposed outages and maintenance
shutdowns.

McCullough says that in May, when Royal Dutch Shell's Martinez plant was
supposedly down for two weeks for maintenance, it was making gasoline at least
half the time. State air monitors showed nitrogen oxide emissions associated
with making gasoline returned to normal at that location a whole week before
the refinery reported coming back on line.

At Chevron's Richmond refinery, emissions reports suggest that the refinery
never shut down, though it reported being down for two weeks in May. Supplies
were actually growing in May when consumers here paid at least 50 cents more
per gallon than the national average, the group said. October's huge price
hike that pushed gasoline up 50 cents a gallon in the space of a week was
partly blamed on Chevron's Richmond fire in August. But McCullough says that
Chevron's supplies at the time were only growing.

When the state only has ten to thirteen days of gasoline supply on hand,
misinformation about a week's worth of gasoline can cost the consumer $1 per
gallon or more at the pump. False information can set the commodities markets
on fire. Oil companies know this well and their profits are dependent on
misaligned expectation in the commodities market. We urge you take action
immediately to prevent California consumers from being gouged by the same type
of artificial manipulation of the energy markets that occurred during
electricity deregulation. We stand ready to assist.

Many thanks,

Jamie Court & Liza Tucker

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog

Website: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org
Contact: Liza Tucker, +1-310-392-7931, +1-626-372-1964 (cell), or Jamie Court,
+1-310-392-0075
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