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Do Local Refineries Play A Major Part In High West Coast Gas Prices?

Maintenance closures, operational issues and other interruptions in the supply of gas from west coast refineries have gas prices soaring in the west, one researcher charges.

With gas prices at west coast pumps higher than those elsewhere in the country, some in the federal government are asking if recent refinery closures on the west coast are the result of a coordinated effort by the companies. One congressperson has called for an investigation into the charges, though the companies deny that such collusion exists. 

Gas prices are an average of $3.45 per gallon in Michigan, $3.35 in Florida, $3.35 in Texas, and $3.65 in New York City. In Martinez, gas prices are over $4 per gallon. 

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D.Wash, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Shell, Tesoro, Conoco-Phillips, Alon, Chevron and BP for possible collusion into raising the price of gas, according to a story by McClatchy News Service. Refinery spokespeople say prices are the result of market demand, and not collusion. 

In other refinery news, the Martinez Shell Refinery notified the California Emergency Mangement Agency that it had released sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere around 12:20 p.m. Friday due to a flare. 

Meanwhile, Tesoro workers at the Martinez Golden Eagle Refinery have agreed to a new contract, the last group of unionized Tesoro workers to do so. The members of the United Steel Workers had authorized a strike vote if an agreement could not be reached, but apparently a strike is no longer a threat.

 

Donald Pallotta June 12, 2012 at 11:06 PM
I don't even claim to know the market reasons for price deltas, but just for the record, not all gasoline is trucked on the west coast. There are many networks of pipelines that serve to move product all over the region and for that matter, all over the United States.
Chris Kapsalis June 13, 2012 at 01:39 AM
You are correct. Natural gas is piped all over California, but refined gasoline is only piped from Bay area refineries to Stockton and Sacramento. The cost of piping it, the pipe cost itself and maintenance, then the trucking of the gas from Sacramento to Say Redding, in all we should still receive a discount or cheaper gas. And what about supply and demand? Demand is very high in the Bay area, and the supply is more, which should also lower our cost of gas, hmmm, get's even stranger ...
Linda Meza June 13, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Sorry Chris, but you're incorrect. There is a terminal (rack) in Eureka and Chico. There are racks in Sac, Martinez, South San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond and Benicia. http://www.energy.ca.gov/maps/powerplants/refinery_locations.html
Chris Kapsalis June 13, 2012 at 04:30 AM
I see refined patrolium only going to Stockton and Sacramento by pipeline. http://www.google.com/imgres?q=california+gasoline+pipeline+map&um=1&hl=en&safe=off&biw=1280&bih=593&tbm=isch&tbnid=W-eGekA7HhOCtM:&imgrefurl=http://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/ctp2.html&docid=oUfGCe8Jb7bm8M&imgurl=http://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/images/CTP2/ctp2-20.gif&w=500&h=541&ei=fxbYT-jtIeTC2QWH1qXDBw&zoom=1
Chris Kapsalis June 13, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Ooops, 1993. Still though, We should still get it cheaper I think.

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