Boxer urges Calif. AG to investigate Shell Oil over alleged market manipulation

Chris Rizo Jan. 10, 2009, 4:14pm

Barbara Boxer (D)

Jerry Brown (D)

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is urging California Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate whether Shell Oil is trying to manipulate California's gasoline market.

Boxer, a California Democrat and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said she wants to know if Shell is trying to reduce the state's gasoline supplies to drive up the price at the pump by terminating crude oil deliveries to the Big West refinery after its parent company filed bankruptcy.

"The Big West Refinery supplies our state with 2 percent of its gasoline and 6 percent of its diesel fuel, and in these tough economic times, Californians can't afford high gas prices stemming from refinery closures," Boxer wrote in a letter to Brown.

The senator made her request to Brown amid revelations of a memo written by a union official at the Big West of California LLC refinery in Southern California.

The memo written by Kevin Cable, committee chairman for the United Steelworkers, said the refinery is out of oil and blamed Shell for closing a pipeline that brings crude into the Bakersfield, Calif., plant.

He wrote that it appears Shell is "trying to shut our plant down."
Shell Oil Co. sold the refinery in 2005 to Big West Oil. Big West's parent company -- Ogden, Utah-based Flying J Inc. -- filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Dec. 22 amid declining oil prices.

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