Gas Prices

California senators have sent a series of questions to oil industry executives.The inquiries come amid concerns about whether the market is competitive.

Capitol Alert
May 8, 2015
By Christopher Cadelago
ccadelago@sacbee.com

California senators investigating the recent surge in gas prices are escalating pressure on oil industry executives.

Sens. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, demanded in a letter Thursday that companies provide more information about their operations, including maintenance, outages and price spikes.

The inquiry to the chiefs of seven companies, including Ben van Beurden of Shell, John S. Watson of Chevron and Rex W. Tillerson of Exxon Mobil, follows a March legislative hearing after a pair of refineries, Exxon Mobil in Torrance and Tesoro in Martinez, went offline due to an explosion and labor dispute.

A recent report by Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based group, asserts that refiners are gouging customers by keeping low gasoline inventories. Oil industry groups contend there’s nothing unusual about the way the market reacted to the outages.

The senators want to know whether the market is competitive enough to keep prices low.

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