California oil refiners posting record profits during gas price spikes: Report

California biggest oil refiners more than doubled their profits during recent gas price spikes, Consumer Watchdog testified before the state's Energy Commission Tuesday. Those refiners also saw 30% greater profits from California during 2022 than from anywhere else in the nation or world, according to the testimony.

At a gas station in Pico Rivera, customers talked of their frustration with gas prices. One told FOX 11 that prices keep her from spending money on things like going to a movie. Another added, "it's just too much."

Doug Shupe with the Auto Club of Southern California said that the war in Ukraine and regional refinery problems were among the reasons gas prices skyrocketed. For context, the average price per gallon in Los Angeles County is just below $5 for first time since March 2nd of this year.

"We actually broke the gas price record here in the Los Angeles area 3 times this year and that has never happened before," said Shupe.

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In Sacramento, Catherine Reheis-Boyd with Western States Petroleum Association, which represents the oil industry, said at a California Energy Commission hearing in Sacramento today, "The factors that determine gasoline and diesel market cost are complicated. In-state production is artificially limited by government policy and local and state policy is causing for production of fuel to fall faster than production."

Public policy is one issue according to Reheis-Boyd, but just importing what we need for our 35 million vehicles is tricky. 

"There’s no pipeline into California to import crude oil and there’s limited oil for refined fuels," she said.

Meanwhile, Jamie Court with Consumer Watchdog told the hearing commissioners, "This is the problem in my view. Five oil refineries make 97% of our gasoline. And, if they want to squeeze us they can."

Court talked about how the big five oil refiners posted profits of $67.6 billion in the first nine months of 2021 adding, "there’s no question that there were big windfall profits for the five big refiners this year."

And, while that frustrates him and others in the state, It also frustrates drivers. Daniela Guevara said, "It is frustrating just because of what we have to go thru with what we have to pay for and they’re making that much."