Refiners Maintain a Firm but Legal Grip on Supplies
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Los Angeles Times
Posted: November 24th, 2006
California refiners are simply cashing in on a system that allows a handful of players to keep prices high by carefully controlling supplies. The result is a kind of miracle market in which profits abound, outsiders can't compete and a dwindling cadre of gas station operators has little choice but go along. Refiners "not only control how much supply is in the marketplace, they control who gets it and at what price," said Dennis DeCota, executive director of the California Service Station and Automotive Repair Assn. The recent history of California's fuel industry is a textbook case of how a once-competitive business can become skewed to the advantage of a few, all with the federal government's blessing. Refiners acknowledge their California businesses have become the most profitable in the nation. The rest of the country isn't far behind. Characteristics once unique to California specialty fuels, a refinery shortage, the growing dominance of a few companies have begun to plague other gasoline markets.