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Power Transportation United States

Getting Better Transparency From Oil Refineries 217

Hugh Pickens writes "Gregg Laskoski reports in U.S. News and World Report that virtually all of the retail gasoline price volatility that Americans experienced this past year was connected to significant problems at refineries. It was those refineries' vulnerability that subjected U.S. consumers to the year's highest average price ever, $3.63 per gallon. February delivered the BP refinery fire in Cherry Point, Washington that led to gasoline price spikes all along the Pacific coast, refinery problems in the Great Lakes region pushed Chicago gas prices to an all-time high of $4.56 per gallon, and over the summer, west coast refineries incurred outages, and California saw record highs in most markets, with Los Angeles gasoline's average price peaking at $4.72/gallon in October. Finally after Reuters reported that some 7,700 gallons of fuel spilled from Phillips 66's Bayway refinery in Linden, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey environmental protection officials said they were not made aware of a major spill at the Bayway plant, and the refinery failed to respond to inquiries from Reuters reporters. 'Too many times, history has shown us, the Phillips 66 response or lack thereof characterizes the standard practice of the oil industry. Refineries often fail or are slow to communicate problems that create significant disruptions to fuel supplies and spikes in retail gasoline prices. More often than not, scant information is provided reluctantly, if at all,' writes Laskoski. 'When such things occur is silence from refineries acceptable? Or does our government and the electorate who put them there have a right to know what's really going on?'"
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Getting Better Transparency From Oil Refineries

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @08:58PM (#42578101)
    Why don't fuel pumps mention the $0.18/gallon federal gasoline tax? Or the $0.38/gallon (California) state gasoline tax? Both are greater profit margin than the "greedy" store, the "greedy" refiner, or the "greedy" oil company.
  • Blame Regulation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @08:59PM (#42578103)

    Regulators (state & federal) have forced refineries to shut down or prevented them from being built in the first place.

    NIMBY'ism is also a factor.

    Then there is the problem of too many different fuel blends. Dozens across the US, with a small number of refineries servicing each area.

    The result of all this, combined, is that a single refinery going down causes huge issues.

    Reduce the number of fuel blends across the country. Dont make it take 10+ years just for the possibility to build a new refinery because of all the hoops. More supply == less volatility.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:04PM (#42578139)

    They suffer from "political myopia." They can't really be bothered to notice occurrences in the physical world. Only politics is real to them. So, like the Roman emperors who couldn't be bothered to attend to their water systems or roads, our government can't be bothered to look at refineries, or how net energy from hydrocarbons is declining even as supplies increase, or what happens when the potash is all mined out, or what happens when a few more major aquifers are completely drained. They won't be in office by then, they figure. It'll be someone else's problem.

  • by jhoegl ( 638955 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:46PM (#42578335)
    I speculate I want more money.
    Now who is laughing all the way to the bank?
    Speculation is bullshit, it is simply a form of legalized gambling.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:20PM (#42578479)

    So you are opposed to transparency when it might hurt something you approve of. Interesting.

    I take it you think of a cudgel against the oil companies and not a means to keep the public informed.

  • by pepty ( 1976012 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @12:50AM (#42579237)

    The oil industry was effectively nationalized decades ago. The industry operates under absolutely strangling regulation and government essentially dictates everything that happens at a refinery right down to when the workers take a leak.

    Um, So The Fuck What?

    If you want to see tight regulation, try working in a pharmaceutical facility. Or maybe a nuclear plant. Guess what: if your workplace is likely to affect the health of LOTS and LOTS of people, I WANT it tightly regulated.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Monday January 14, 2013 @12:59AM (#42579293)

    So you are opposed to transparency when it might hurt something you approve of. Interesting.

    I'm not at all opposed to "transparency" with how oil companies operate. As well, I don't have a problem with gas tax that pays for roads and transportation that we all use.

    I am, however, opposed to people who pontificate as "Anonymous Cowards" and expect to be taken seriously. Man, if you believe it, log in to your account and post. Posting as as an "Anonymous Cowards" is the sure sign of a Karma Whore - learn to take your "Flamebait" and "Troll" along with your Interesting" and "Insightful".

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972