Warning: array_map(): Argument #2 should be an array in /opt/bitnami/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/themes/freshnews/functions.php on line 46

Warning: implode(): Invalid arguments passed in /opt/bitnami/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/themes/freshnews/functions.php on line 46

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /opt/bitnami/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/themes/freshnews/functions.php:46) in /opt/bitnami/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-includes/feed-rss2.php on line 8
Press Releases – Oil Watchdog http://oilwatchdog.org Insider news and analysis from America's top Consumer Advocates. Fri, 08 Oct 2010 00:37:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 "Hot Fuel" Fix Urgent http://oilwatchdog.org/hot-fuel-fix-urgent/ http://oilwatchdog.org/hot-fuel-fix-urgent/#comments Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/05/hot-fuel-fix-urgent/ NEWS RELEASE

Zooming Oil Price Makes "Hot Fuel" Fix More Urgent as Memorial Day Approaches

Consumer Groups Criticize Oil Industry Resistance to Fixing
Hidden Charge at Pump That Costs U.S. Drivers Close to $3 Billion Yearly

Washington, D.C. — As Memorial Day kicks off the summer driving season
and gas prices scrape and sometimes exceed $4 per gallon, U.S. auto and
truck drivers are paying $3 billion a year in hidden charges at the
pump for fuel that expands and loses value as it heats up. (For
information on audio news conference at 11:30 a.m. see note at end of
release.)

"A ‘hot fuel’ surcharge of up to a dime a gallon is concealed from
motorists because they have no way to tell if the fuel they’re buying
is 60 degrees, 90 degrees or more," said Judy Dugan, research director
of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog. "Fuel at gas stations
across the street from one another can vary by 10 or 15 degrees, so
drivers have no way to judge the actual value of what they’re buying,
no matter what the posted price."

The nation’s leading advocate for independent truckers, the Owner
Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), is also protesting
the failure of national regulators to fix this rip-off in the face of
oil industry lobbying. A number of individual truckers are pursuing a
national lawsuit against the deceptive practice.

"The hot fuel scam costs our members at least hundreds of dollars per
year," said John Siebert of OOIDA. "Fuel prices are adjusted for
temperature at every point in the sales chain except the final one to
consumers. It’s high time to end this hidden oil industry subsidy."

Gasoline is sold by volume, and it expands as the temperature rises,
a bit more than 1% for every 15 degree Fahrenheit increase in
temperature. A century-old oil industry standard fixes the assumed
temperature at point of sale at 60 degrees. Yet the average year-round
temperature of gasoline sold in the U.S. today is near 65 degrees.
Summertime temperatures are often drastically higher, especially in
warm states. At 90 degrees, a 20-gallon fill-up costs a driver $1.60
more than it should, because the expanded "hot fuel" loses energy.

A comprehensive investigation by the Kansas City Star published in
August 2006 estimated that U.S. consumers are shorted about 760 million
gallons of gas and diesel per year by hot fuel sales. At the current
average national price of $3.81/gallon, (for today’s prices see www.fuelgaugereport.com), that’s $2.88 billion per year. As U.S. prices increasingly cross the $4 barrier, the hot fuel tab will exceed $3 billion.

At current prices, in hot months in Western and Southern states, car
drivers pay an extra 7 cents to 9 cents per gallon. Even in the
unlikely event that the 18.4 cent a gallon federal gas tax was
suspended for the summer, drivers would be paying half their savings
back to oil companies for hot fuel that has been robbed of its full
energy value.

"Adjusting fuel price to temperature is a matter of simple fairness,"
said Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen. "Sending customers
away with less than they paid for is unacceptable in any industry."

Simple, moderately priced technology that adjusts the price at the pump
to account for temperature has existed for decades. In Canada, where
average gasoline temperatures are lower than 60 degrees, the oil
industry lobbied for, and obtained, the right to adjust price to
temperature so consumers wouldn’t benefit from "cold gas." In the U.S.,
however, the industry has lobbied successfully against state
legislation or national regulations mandating temperature-adjusted
pricing.

"The oil industry has taken a classic "heads-we-win-tails-you-lose"
position when it comes to temperature-based differences in fuel value,"
said Judy Dugan, research director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan
Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights). "In the U.S., oil companies and gasoline marketers argue that
retail temperature-adjusted pricing is unnecessary, even though the
dealers buy wholesale gasoline with a temperature adjustment. In
Canada, they have been more than willing to install retail temperature
adjustment, prompted only by their own profit calculations."

In February, a Federal District Judge in Kansas City denied a motion to
dismiss the national "hot fuel" lawsuit. Sen. Claire McCaskill of
Missouri is sponsoring legislation that would require retail
temperature adjustment over a period of several years.

Independent truckers are hit hardest by the hot fuel premium (large
trucking companies buy their own fuel in bulk and demand that it be
temperature adjusted). The Owner Operator Independent Drivers
Association, based in Missouri, supports the hot fuel lawsuit.

– 30 –

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/hot-fuel-fix-urgent/feed/ 1
Bush Forced to Cap Oil Reserve http://oilwatchdog.org/bush-forced-to-cap-oil-reserve/ http://oilwatchdog.org/bush-forced-to-cap-oil-reserve/#respond Fri, 16 May 2008 15:26:02 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/05/bush-forced-to-cap-oil-reserve/ White House Forced to Cap Oil Reserve; Should Embolden Congress to Push for More To Drop Energy Prices

Consumer Watchdog Calls for Sales from Reserve, Warning to Refineries, Swift Action on Oil Trading Curbs

Santa Monica, CA — The Energy Department’s announcement that it will
cap taxpayer-funded additions to the federal Strategic Oil Reserve is a
small first step, and a late one, said Consumer Watchdog. Even so, it
is a symbolic move that could drop gasoline prices by several cents
this summer.
 
President Bush, in an abrupt about-face, was forced to act by
Congressional votes to cap purchases for the reserve, and by oil prices
that leaped today above $127 a barrel.
 
Even with this first step, motorists nationwide are likely headed
toward $4.00 a gallon gasoline nationwide this summer, said Consumer
Watchdog. If refineries continue on a path of cutting back production
to increase gasoline prices, any effect from capping the reserve would
be canceled out at the pump.
 
“Both parties in Congress were forced to hear drivers’ anger at both
unaffordable pump prices and the ‘oil tax’ that consumers are paying on
everything from groceries to air travel,” said Judy Dugan, research
director of Consumer Watchdog. “Now Congress has forced the White House
to listen, too. Capping the reserve will signal at least awareness of
the magnitude of the economic problems caused by oil and fuel prices.”
 
It will also save taxpayers at least $90 million over six months, given
the program’s $187 million budget for this year, said Consumer
Watchdog. The actual savings would probably be much larger, given that
the budget was decided long before the rise to even $100 a barrel oil.
 
The effectiveness of this first belated move will depend on whether
government keeps pushing to get speculative markets under control and
prevent refinery profits from eating up any savings from lower oil
prices, said Consumer Watchdog.
 
“At a minimum, the White House should also state its willingness to
“loan” some of the reserve into the market as it did after Hurricane
Katrina, which effectively dampened oil prices,” said Dugan. “Congress
and the White House must also put newly enacted regulation of
speculative trading on a fast track, and hire the financial cops to
detect manipulation.”
 
– 30 –
 
Consumer Watchdog is California’s leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer policy advocacy group.
For more information visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org  and www.oilwatchdog.org

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/bush-forced-to-cap-oil-reserve/feed/ 0
Chevron Busts Family Budgets http://oilwatchdog.org/chevron-busts-family-budgets/ http://oilwatchdog.org/chevron-busts-family-budgets/#comments Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/05/chevron-busts-family-budgets/ Chevron Busts Family Budgets In Struggling California Town Of Casmalia

State PUC Grants Oil Giant’s Water Company 89.7 Percent Rate Increase; Chevron Wanted 138 Percent

Santa Monica, CA — A decision today  by the California Public
Utilities Commission to grant a whopping 89.7 percent water rate
increase to a tiny water company owned by oil giant Chevron means three
years of increasing fiscal agony for the hamlet of Casmalia, Consumer
Watchdog said. The increase will be phased in over that period.

Chevron, which just posted record first-quarter profits of $5.17
billion, had originally sought a water rate increase of 138 percent. 
The average monthly water bill in Casmalia is $115 compared to $40 to
$60 for the same amount of water provided by other agencies in Santa
Barbara County.  Under the new rates, Casmalia’s average monthly bill
would soar to $148 immediately. In 2009 it would rise to $183 and in
2010 to $217. Under Chevron’s initial plan the average monthly rate
would have been $272.

“Folks in Casmalia are in a special class,” said John M. Simpson, an
advocate with Consumer Watchdog. “All Californians get shafted by
Chevron when they go to the gas pump. Only residents of Casmalia get
shafted a second time when they go home and drink a glass of water.”

In a letter to the Public Utilities Commission before today’s meeting,
Casmalia Community Services District President Bill Ostini wrote, “If
this increase is granted, it will signal the beginning of the end for
us."

Village officials estimate the median household income for the town is
around $30,000. The final Chevron water bill would swallow nearly 9
percent of that income.

Casmalia is 1.5 miles north of Vandenberg Air Force base. In the early
1900s, the population was 1,500. It’s since dwindled to around 200, and
the town is perhaps best known for the Hitching Post Restaurant. From
1973 to 1989 the notorious Casmalia Resources Hazardous Waste Facility
operated a mile north of town. During the time it was in business, the
toxic dump received more than 4 billion pounds of waste from around the
Golden State. Fumes regularly blew into town and sickened residents.
Those days are over. Now the site is the target of an EPA Superfund
cleanup, and Chevron is involved as a member of the Casmalia Steering
Committee.

Casmalia gets its water from the Casmite Water Corp., owned by Chevron.
Casmite has provided Casmalia’s water since the 1940s, when it had oil
operations in the area. Unocal acquired Casmite in 1953, and then
Chevron swallowed up Unocal in 2005.

"Oil giant Chevron, needs to harness some of the ‘human energy’ it
touts in a multimillion dollar ad campaign and solve this community’s
problem,” said Simpson, “We’re talking about amounts that aren’t even
pocket change for Chevron, but an 89.7 percent water rate increase on
top of already exorbitant rates will kill Casmalia. PUC regulations may
allow Chevron to do this, but that doesn’t make it right. If I were a
Chevron executive, I would be embarrassed by what’s happened in
Casmalia."

Consumer Watchdog said Chevron should follow the example of oil company
Atlantic Richfield when it faced a similar situation in New Cuyama in
1977. The oil company turned over their small water agency along with
$1 million to run it to the Community Services District.

Read an opinion piece in today’s San Francisco Chronicle about the Casmalia water situation.

– 30 –

Consumer Watchdog is California’s leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group.

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/chevron-busts-family-budgets/feed/ 1
Tax Refunds Going to Gas Tanks http://oilwatchdog.org/tax-refunds-going-to-gas-tanks/ http://oilwatchdog.org/tax-refunds-going-to-gas-tanks/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/05/tax-refunds-going-to-gas-tanks/ Gas Up 11 Cents In Week, 34 Cents In a Month; Consumers’ Tax Incentive Going Straight to Gas Tanks

White House Scorns Action, Congress in Gridlock as Soaring Prices Push Inflation, Motorists Cry ‘Uncle’

 

CONTACT: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522, ext. 305, or cell: 213-280-0175

May 12, 2008

Santa Monica, CA — An 11-cent rise in gasoline prices in one week will
put the reins on consumers who would like to spend their $300 to $600
federal tax incentive on something frivolous, like an extra sack of
groceries or repairing the roof, said the nonprofit, nonpartisan
Consumer Watchdog today. The pain of prices at the pump is only made
worse by government’s inaction to curb the financial speculation that
is driving oil prices and profiting oil companies at the expense of the
economy.

The federal Energy Information Agency reported today that the price of
regular gasoline was at $3.722, up from $3.613 a week a go and $3.389
four weeks ago. Diesel’s rise was even higher, from $4.149 to $4.339 in
a week.

“Gasoline prices alone are making drivers cry ‘uncle,’ but diesel costs
may be an even larger hit on family budgets,” said Judy Dugan, research
director of Consumer Watchdog (formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and
Consumer Rights). “Farmers are having to pass through diesel and
petroleum-based fertilizer costs, while truckers and shippers face a
choice between bankruptcy and passing along the cost of their $600
fill-ups. It’s a no-win for everyone except energy traders and oil
companies.”

Consumer confidence is at modern lows, noted the watchdog group, and
credit card debt is rising due to both fuel prices and food costs.

“Congress has put forth a bucketful of proposals, but even a modest
plan to put some oversight on out-of-control energy trading faces a
White House veto, because it’s stuck inside a farm bill that the
president dislikes,” said Dugan. “The Senate can’t even get it together
to cancel some of the oil companies’ unnecessary taxpayer subsidies.
It’s like forcing the cleaning lady to pay a yearly bonus to her CEO
employer.”

(See more on Consumer Watchdog’s assessment of White House and Congressional proposals here.)

Consumer Watchdog urged Congress to move swiftly on a resolution urging
the White House to stop using taxpayer funds to fill the federal
Strategic Petroleum Reserve with record-priced oil. Spiking fuel prices
and economic insecurity currently make selling some of that oil a
better national security priority. Just halting purchases for the
reserve would reduce fuel prices at least slightly and possibly
substantially, said Consumer Watchdog. Estimates of the effect range
from 3-5 cents a gallon to over 20 cents a gallon.

“It’s crucial for government to move faster on more sources of
renewable energy, and better public transportation, but it’s just as
important to give help consumers stuck with an auto-based economy until
alternatives are in place,” said Dugan. “Calls in some corners for
$10-dollar gasoline as a way to bring down consumption ignore the
disaster that this would be for the working and middle classes.”

Consumer Watchdog’s proposals for bringing down fuel and energy prices
while encouraging stronger development of renewable energy include:

– Action by President Bush to stop adding to federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve and sell from the reserve to stabilize and drive down
oil futures price.  (Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter to the White House here.)
 
– Closure of the “Enron Loophole” in commodity trading regulation. A
regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Carl Levin) would regulate trading markets to help stop
speculative oil pricing. This measure was inserted in the federal farm
bill, which Bush has vowed to veto. The regulatory bill should be
reintroduced on an emergency basis as a stand-alone bill. Regulators
should separately  increase the amount of margin funds that most
traders must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation. (See more on Enron loophole and farm bill here.)

– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill (HR 5351) funded by
withdrawing $1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to
oil companies. This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up
in the Senate, where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to block
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby.
 
– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in gasoline production.
 
– 30 –

Consumer Watchdog (formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights) is a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy
organization.

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/tax-refunds-going-to-gas-tanks/feed/ 0
Exxon Posts More Record Profits http://oilwatchdog.org/exxon-posts-more-record-profits/ http://oilwatchdog.org/exxon-posts-more-record-profits/#respond Thu, 01 May 2008 10:31:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/05/exxon-posts-more-record-profits/ NEWS RELEASE

May 01, 2008

ExxonMobil Profits Soar to Record On Speculative Oil Prices While Consumers and Economy Suffer

Santa Monica, CA — Record first-quarter profits, up a staggering 17
percent to $10.89 billion reported today by ExxonMobil, the world’s
largest oil company, came as the result of crude oil profits driven by
unregulated speculative trading, said Consumer Watchdog.  Soaring
gasoline and diesel prices have devastated the U.S. economy and helped
push consumers deeper into debt, yet President Bush and Congress have
engaged in mindless finger-pointing and failed to take obvious steps to
ease the pain.

“With gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon in some cities and averaging
$3.60 nationwide, nobody is surprised to see the latest string of
outrageous profits posted by Big Oil,”  said John M. Simpson, consumer
advocate with Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer
and Consumer Rights). “But what people cannot understand — and will
not forget — is that their elected representatives are shirking their
responsibility to take obvious steps that will ease the crisis.”

“People are driving less, but for every trip they cancel, rising prices
at the pump more than wipe out their savings,” said Simpson. “They pay
a second time as inflation at the grocery store is driven by fuel
surcharges on every truck delivery.”

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog and its Oilwatchdog.org
project have called for action to quell market speculation and cut back
taxpayer subsidies to oil companies (see below), but the most obvious
immediate action is for the White House to stop buying market-priced
oil for the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is at record
high levels above 700 million barrels, and start selling a fraction of
the reserve back into the market.

At a Rose Garden News Conference this week Bush refused to stop
purchases for the reserve.  He also blamed Congress for not allowing
oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) even though
it would take a decade before oil could be obtained if drilling were
allowed today.
 
“Purchases for the reserve, at these record oil prices, come straight
from the pockets of taxpayers, and by taking oil off the market they
fuel continued speculation,” said Judy Dugan, Consumer Watchdog
research director. “Yet President Bush has turned a deaf ear on pleas
by Congress and consumer advocates to take the small, painless and
beneficial step of curbing this excess. There is no strategic benefit
more important than using the oil reserve to aid consumers and offset
energy inflation.” (See Consumer Watchdog’s letter to President Bush here.)

Exxon’s profits were a record for a first quarter and were the second
highest ever for any U.S. corporation.  Exxon’s 2007 fourth quarter
earnings of $11.66 billion are the all time record. During the first
quarter of 2008 the oil giant piled up profits at the rate of $5.08
million an hour or $84,000 every minute. (See more historical data at Consumer Watchdog’s “Oil Profits Monster” database. Quarterly data and charts for Shell and BP will be updated by 11 am PDT.)

With the announcement of record profits, Exxon also said it had bought back $8 billion in its own shares.

“This is money that could have been used to lower prices for consumers
and invested in alternative energy research,” said Simpson. “Instead the company is taking a short-term, profit-maximizing approach that has even upset some of its most important shareholders.”

On Wednesday descendents of John D. Rockefeller, who founded Standard
Oil, ExxonMobil’s precursor, called a news conference in New York to
say the oil giant is overlooking its effect on the environment and the
future of alternative energy. They also backed a resolution that would
split the roles of chief executive officer and chairman, now held
jointly by Rex Tillerson.

“When America’s first family of oil speaks, ExxonMobil should pay attention,” said Simpson.

Tell ExxonMobil to shift its massive profits away from investing in oil, and towards renewable energy sources!

Exxon’s refining profits did not match the increases from oil sales,
but that was in part because the oil giant is selling its own petroleum
at inflated prices to their own refineries, said Consumer Watchdog. The
current upward spike in pump prices is unlikely to stop even if crude
oil prices abate, because refiners are now working to boost profits on
their end of the business.
 
“When one uses the spreadsheet to compare the price at the pump with
the quarterly company profit reports, it is clear the companies have
inflated bottom lines by raising pump prices far in excess of any
actual increased cost incurring from the highly publicized increase in
the commodity price of crude,” said Tim Hamilton, independent oil
analyst. “Since the average pump price for regular unleaded was back at
$3.11 during the first quarter, next quarter profit reports can be
expected to reflect prices approaching $4 at the pump and set yet
another new record.”

 
Consumer Watchdog has called for:
 
– Action by President Bush to stop adding to federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve and sell from the reserve to stabilize and drive down
oil futures price.  Link to CW letter to White House.
 
– Closure of the “Enron Loophole” in commodity trading regulation. A
regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Carl Levin) would regulate trading markets to help stop
speculative oil pricing. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment.)
Regulators should also increase the amount of margin funds that traders
must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation.
 
– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill (HR 5351) funded by
withdrawing $1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to
oil companies. This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up
in the Senate, where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to block
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby.
 
– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in gasoline production.
 
Consumer Watchdog (formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights) is a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy
organization.
 
For more information, see www.consumerwatchdog.org or www.oilwatchdog.org  
 
– 30 –

 

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/exxon-posts-more-record-profits/feed/ 0
Shell & BP Record 1st Qtr Profits http://oilwatchdog.org/shell-bp-record-1st-qtr-profits/ http://oilwatchdog.org/shell-bp-record-1st-qtr-profits/#comments Tue, 29 Apr 2008 10:59:02 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/shell-bp-record-1st-qtr-profits/ NEWS RELEASE: 

April 29, 2008

Speculative Oil Price Brings Roof-Busting Profits to Shell, BP at Cost of Squeezed Consumers, Suffering Economy

Government’s ‘Business as Usual’ Stance Is Inexcusable as Pump Price Soars, Says Consumer Group

CONTACT: Judy Dugan, cell: 213-280-0175; or John Simpson, 310-392-0522, ext. 317

Santa Monica, CA — The first-quarter record profits reported today by
oil giants BP and Shell came almost entirely on crude oil profits
driven by speculative trading, said Consumer Watchdog. Spiraling
gasoline and diesel prices have crimped the U.S. economy and pushed
consumers deeper into credit card debt, yet the White House and
Congress have failed to take even small steps to ease the pain.
 
“No driver who is pumping $80 worth of regular into the minivan each
week will be surprised by the continuing run of profit records.” said
Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog (formerly the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights). “Consumers are driving
less, but for every trip they cancel, rising prices at the pump more
than wipe out their savings. They pay a second time as inflation at the
grocery store is driven by fuel surcharges on every truck delivery.”
 
The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog has called for action to
quell market speculation and cut back taxpayer subsidies to oil
companies (see below), but the most obvious immediate action is for the
White House to stop buying market-priced oil for the federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve, which is at record high levels above 700 million
barrels, and start selling a fraction of the reserve back into the
market.
 
“Purchases for the reserve, at these record oil prices, come straight
from the pockets of taxpayers, and by taking oil off the market they
fuel continued speculation,” said Dugan. “Yet President Bush has turned
a deaf ear on pleas by Congress and consumer advocates to take the
small, painless and beneficial step of curbing this excess. There is no
strategic benefit more important than using the oil reserve to aid
consumers and offset energy inflation.” (Click here to see Consumer Watchdog’s letter to President Bush.)

At his news conference today Bush refused to stop adding oil to the strategic reserve.
 
Shell’s $7.8 billion 1st quarter profit, 12 percent increase, was a
record, above what analysts had expected — and was less than $2
billion below the company’s entire yearly profit of $9.65 billion in
2002. BP’s $6.6 billion, 48 percent leap, was also a 1st quarter
record. (Click here to see more historical data at Consumer Watchdog’s “Oil Profits Monster” database.) Quarterly data and charts for Shell and BP will be updated by noon PDT.)
 
The companies’ refining profits did not match the increases from oil
sales, but that was in part because the oil giants are selling their
own petroleum at inflated prices to their own refineries, said Consumer
Watchdog. The current upward spike in pump prices is unlikely to stop
even if oil prices abate, because refiners are now working to boost
profits on their end of the business.
 
“When one uses the spreadsheet to compare the price at the pump with
the quarterly company profit reports, it is clear the companies have
inflated bottom lines by raising pump prices far in excess of any
actual increased cost incurring from the highly publicized increase in
the commodity price of crude, said Tim Hamilton, independent oil
analyst. “Since much of the current spike at the pump occurred in
March, next quarter profit reports can be expected to set yet another
new record.”
 
Consumer Watchdog has called for:
 
– Action by President Bush to stop adding to federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve and sell from the reserve to stabilize and drive down
oil futures price. (Click here for to see CW letter to White House.)

– Closure of the “Enron Loophole” in commodity trading regulation. A
regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Carl Levin) would regulate trading markets to help stop
speculative oil pricing. (Click here to see more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment.)
Regulators should also increase the amount of margin funds that traders
must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation.
 
– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill (HR 5351) funded by
withdrawing $1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to
oil companies. This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up
in the Senate, where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to block
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby.
 
– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in gasoline production.
 
Consumer Watchdog (formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights) is a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy
organization.
 

– 30 –

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/shell-bp-record-1st-qtr-profits/feed/ 2
Conoco's Profit = Higher Gas $ http://oilwatchdog.org/conocos-profit-higher-gas/ http://oilwatchdog.org/conocos-profit-higher-gas/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/conocos-profit-higher-gas/ NEWS RELEASE:

 

Consumer Group Sees Warning in Oil Profit Report that Refining Profits Set to Rise, Spiking Gasoline Prices Further 

 

April 24, 2008

Conoco Phillips’ CEO all but apologized for his company’s 1st quarter
profits today, even though the $3.29 billion total was a record for the
quarter, and the company’s profit on oil exploration and production
alone reached an all-time quarterly high of $2.55 billion. Consumer
Watchdog called this mindset in the oil business evidence of an
industry responding to the expectations of speculative markets, not the
needs of a sagging economy or the long-term health of the industry.
 
“Conoco is the starter McMansion of oil companies, compared to the
lavish estate of Exxon,” Judy Dugan, research director of the nonprofit
Consumer Watchdog (formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights. “But for its CEO to say that record profits are merely ‘solid
financial results… [negatively] impacted by unplanned downtime’ shows
an industry operating in an economic bubble with no connection to the
pain its prices are causing in the rest of the economy.”
 
CEO Jim Mulva pointed to a drop in refining profits, which at $520
million were less than one-fourth of Conoco’s quarterly record, $2.36
billion in the 2nd quarter of 2007. Yet the drop was largely a result
of the high oil prices that Conoco was charging to its own refineries,
noted Consumer Watchdog. If refinery margins this year had reached the
2007 record levels of nearly $1.00 on each gallon of gas, at Conoco and
other companies, drivers would be paying $4.50 to nearly $5.00 a gallon
at the pump today.
 
“Refiners are now curbing production of gasoline even more than
consumers have cut back on driving, so gasoline prices are now rising
faster than oil prices,” said Dugan. “What drivers and the economy as a
whole can’t afford is an industry bent on having it both ways.”
 
Conoco, which like its larger brethren is awash in cash, noted in its
investor presentation that it would spend the largest single portion of
its 2008 profits to buy back company stock, rather than on exploration
or updating and expanding its refineries.
 
(For extensive, accurate comparison data on oil company profits back to 2000, see the extensive Consumer Watchdog/OilWatchdog “Profits Monster” database.)
 
Conoco is just the first drop in the oil barrel this quarter, said
Consumer Watchdog, and larger giants like Exxon and Chevron are
expected to hit even larger percentage records.
 
Conoco’s profits also showed how diesel fuel, the backbone of food and goods transportation, rose even higher than gasoline.
 
Independent oil analyst Tim Hamilton analyzed the Conoco profit data
for Consumer Watchdog and noted that the wholesale price of diesel rose
95 cents a gallon from the 1st quarter last year, or 27 cents more than
the wholesale gasoline price in the same period.
 
“Even though gasoline and diesel come out of the same barrel of oil, farmers, truckers, and other users of diesel got hit first and hardest,” said Hamilton.
 
Since diesel demand begins in early spring and gasoline demand comes in
late spring through summer, Hamilton expects gasoline to catch up with
and even pass diesel by the end of the 2nd quarter.
 
"It’s a given that we will see $4 at the pump. The  question is, will
we see $5?  If we have so much as a big burp at any refinery in the
West  this summer,” said Hamilton, “$5 per gallon is likely, at least
in California."  
 
To quell the prices of oil and gasoline, Consumer Watchdog has called for:
 
– White House action to stop using taxpayer funds to add to the
Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is still growing at a rate of 1.5
million gallons a month and is at near-record highs above 700 million
gallons total. President Bush should also release oil from the reserve
into the market, to help quell speculative price spikes.
 
– Closing the Enron Loophole in commodity trading regulation. A
regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Carl Levin) would help stop speculative oil pricing. This
measure is stuck in a fight over other subsidies in the House-Senate
conference committee. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment.)
 
– Increasing the amount of margin funds that traders must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation.
 
– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill funded by withdrawing
$1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to oil companies.
This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up in the Senate,
where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to require 60 votes for
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby. (Find text of HR 5351 here.)

– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in production. Only
government regulation to control the supply of gasoline, nationally and
regionally, will keep supplies adequate to control prices.

– 30 – 

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/conocos-profit-higher-gas/feed/ 0
Bush Blames $115 Oil on OPEC http://oilwatchdog.org/bush-blames-115-oil-on-opec/ http://oilwatchdog.org/bush-blames-115-oil-on-opec/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/bush-blames-115-oil-on-opec/ NEWS RELEASE: 
CONTACT: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522 ext. 305; or cell, 213-280-0175
April 16, 2008

New Oil Price Spike to $115 a Barrel Shows a "Two-Faced" White House That Takes Oil Off U.S. Markets While Blaming OPEC

Santa Monica, CA — As oil prices topped $115 a barrel today on futures
markets, President Bush continued his near-silence on the damage that
energy inflation is doing to consumers and the economy, said Consumer
Watchdog. The White House clings to a pallid strategy of blaming OPEC
even as it continues buying oil off the market at a rate of 1.5 million
barrels a month for a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that is already
filled to near-record levels.

“In 2006, President Bush dramatically announced that he would stop
taxpayer-paid purchases for the petroleum reserve in order to help
bring down prices,” said Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer
Watchdog. “Now, in a much more urgent situation, he has not taken even
this symbolic step to show seriousness in the face of serious economic
damage from energy prices.”  (See news report of the 2006 announcement here.)

Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights) recently asked President Bush to cease purchases for the
reserve, and also to begin releasing oil from the 700-million barrel
store to show his administration’s determination to quell volatility
and speculation in oil on futures markets. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment here.) With the farm bill stalled, the Senate measure should be passed separately and sent quickly to the White House.

•    Regulatory increase of the amount of margin funds that buyers must
put up in energy trades to help suppress speculation by traders who
will never take possession of a barrel of oil.

•    Senate approval of a measure to withdraw $1.8 billion a year in
unjustified taxpayer subsidies to oil companies and use the funds for
development of job-creating green energy businesses. This measure,
passed by the House, has not been taken up in the Senate, where
opponents are using a filibuster tactic to require 60 votes for
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby.

•    Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in gasoline production.

Consumer Watchdog is a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy
organization. For more information, see www.consumerwatchdog.org

– 30 –

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/bush-blames-115-oil-on-opec/feed/ 0
Fuel Spike Demands DC Action http://oilwatchdog.org/fuel-spike-demands-dc-action/ http://oilwatchdog.org/fuel-spike-demands-dc-action/#respond Fri, 11 Apr 2008 13:54:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/fuel-spike-demands-dc-action/ NEWS RELEASE: April 11, 2008

CONTACT: Judy Dugan, 213-280-0175; or Jamie Court, 310-392-0522, ext. 327

Relentless Fuel Price Spike Demands White House Action, Says Consumer Watchdog

Santa Monica, CA — As gasoline and diesel prices reached another daily
record price today, Consumer Watchdog asked President Bush to release
oil from the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve with the explicit goal
of deflating speculation in energy trading. (See the letter below.)
 
Legislators of both parties, now including U.S. Senator John McCain,
have asked Bush to suspend taxpayer-paid purchases for the reserve.
That is a step in the right direction, said the nonprofit, nonpartisan
Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights), but not sufficient to halt the economic damage of current
prices.
 
“Months of deliberate White House inaction on oil and fuel prices have
pushed consumers and the U.S. economy over a cliff,” said Judy Dugan,
research director of Consumer Watchdog. “In fact, the President Bush
has exacerbated the harm by spending taxpayer money on millions of
barrels of oil at record prices for the strategic reserve, which is
filled to near its all-time high.”
 
The letter to Bush says:
 
“The existing reserve is ample, particularly given today’s economic
conditions. Repurchasing for the reserve after prices stabilize will
benefit the Treasury.
 
* “The SPR is near an all-time high, at over 700 million gallons–more
than 150 million barrels above the level when you took office.
 
* “The reserve has grown by 4 million gallons since the beginning of
the year, and by 1.5 million gallons in the past month alone.
 
* “Taxpayers have paid record prices for this oil. Even worse, the
removal of this oil from the market abets continued price increases.”
 
Suspending future purchases is not enough, said Consumer Watchdog,
because only a show of White House determination to squeeze speculative
bloat from trading on oil futures markets can provide relief in the
current markets.
 
“The strategic reserve is a powerful club to hold over these
unregulated trading markets, and a fast one,” said Dugan. “While
Congress struggles to add regulation and oversight to out-of-control
electronic trading, President Bush must use the reserve as a finger in
the dike.”
 
The full letter follows:
 

April 11, 2008
 
President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC, 20500
 
Also by electronic mail
 
Dear President Bush,
 
Continuing record-level prices and volatility in oil and transportation
fuel markets are weakening the U.S. economy, from family budgets to
food prices to manufacturing costs. We agree with legislators of both
parties, including Sen. John McCain, that you must respond by
suspending purchases of petroleum for the federal Strategic Petroleum
Reserve. However, you must also release reserves with an explicitly
stated intent to deflate and stabilize petroleum prices in futures
markets bloated by speculative trading.
 
The existing reserve is ample, particularly given today’s economic
conditions. Repurchasing for the reserve after prices stabilize will
benefit the Treasury.
 
* The SPR is near an all-time high, at over 700 million gallons–more
than 150 million barrels above the level when you took office.
 
* The reserve has grown by 4 million gallons since the beginning of the
year, and by 1.5 million gallons in the past month alone.
 
* Taxpayers have paid record prices for this oil. Even worse, the
removal of this oil from the market abets continued price increases.
 
In April 2006, you announced a temporary halt in petroleum deposits to
the reserve, specifically to help alleviate high fuel prices.
 
The price situation today is significantly worse, and the nation’s economic condition significantly weaker.
 
Releases from the reserve are necessary as well–not because of
outright shortage but because of uncontrollable prices, due in large
part to market speculation.
 
In addition to the consumer price benefits of both actions, the oil
company royalties that are forgiven for additions to the reserve will
flow instead to the Treasury. At a time of record deficits, and as the
Treasury prepares to write $1,200 economic stimulus checks to American
families, the revenue cannot be disregarded.
 
We also request that you use your presidential bully pulpit to demand,
for the national good, that refiners restrict their margins on fuel
production instead of driving for maximum profits on gasoline and
diesel, the pattern of the last two spring-summer seasons. You have a
powerful voice in this industry, and at this point it must be used for
the economic relief of consumers and the economy.
 
Sincerely,
 
 
Jamie Court                             Judy Dugan
President                                 Research Director

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/fuel-spike-demands-dc-action/feed/ 0
Where's Congress, White House on Gas Prices? http://oilwatchdog.org/wheres-congress-white-house-on-gas-prices/ http://oilwatchdog.org/wheres-congress-white-house-on-gas-prices/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/wheres-congress-white-house-on-gas-prices/ NEWS RELEASE: 

April 07, 2008 

Gallon of Regular Gasoline Spikes Nearly a Nickel in a Week, 17 Cents Since March 3

Refineries’ Profit Surge Comes On Top of Record Profits Reaped
From High Oil Prices; Group Asks, “Where’s the White House? Where’s
Congress?”


Santa Monica, CA — At the accelerating rate of increase in pump
prices, gasoline will soon cost over $4.00 a gallon in California and
other high-priced states, said Consumer Watchdog, urging Congress and
the White House to push investigations of oil trading speculation and
refineries’ deliberate cutbacks in gasoline production.
 
The House and Senate each held one committee hearing last week related
to energy prices, but much more is needed, said Consumer Watchdog
(formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights). The federal
Energy Information Administration’s weekly report of national average
prices for regular hitting $3.332 today, and diesel averaging $3.955,
should qualify as a “national economic emergency,” said the watchdog
group.
 
“Unlike ordinary consumers, Congress and the White House have amplified
voices that oil companies and energy speculators can hear,” said Judy
Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog and its Oilwatchdog.org
project. “Concerted warnings that these price spikes will bring
consequences could dampen the continuing leap in pump prices.”
 
New industry regulation would indeed take months at best to have a
clear effect, but a shot over the bow could be faster-acting, said
Consumer Watchdog, especially if the White House were to join hands
with Congress—unlikely as that might be.
 
“The major oil companies are almost certain to report another record
round of first-quarter profits in the next few weeks, yet their
refineries are reducing production well beyond what’s necessary for the
yearly switch to clean-air gasoline formulas,” said Dugan. “Refineries
are trying to throttle back faster than empty-pocketed drivers can cut
back their gasoline usage, in order to keep pump prices rising. Pump
prices have become a national economic emergency.”
 
The new round of record prices comes as gasoline consumption is
declining nationally from last year, according federal energy data. In
California, gasoline consumption has been down for the last seven
quarters, according to the state tax board.
 
Consumer Watchdog has called for:

– Closing the Enron Loophole in commodity trading regulation. A
regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Carl Levin) would help stop speculative oil pricing. This
measure is stuck in a fight over other subsidies in the House-Senate
conference committee. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment here.)
Regulators should also increase the amount of margin funds that traders
must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation.

– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill funded by withdrawing
$1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to oil companies.
This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up in the Senate,
where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to require 60 votes for
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby. (Find text of HR 5351 here.)

– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in production.
 
– 30 –

]]>
http://oilwatchdog.org/wheres-congress-white-house-on-gas-prices/feed/ 0