SANTA MONICA, Calif., Sept. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new analysis by Consumer Watchdog shows Californians have paid $5.3 billion extra for their gasoline due to the higher amount Californians are charged than the rest of the nation since February. As Labor Day weekend approaches, Californians are paying 88 cents more than the national average.

The analysis shows Californians paid $900 million more for their gasoline than typical Americans in August alone. The analysis uses California consumption and both US & California gas prices, deducting California’s marginally higher taxes.

“The historic Golden State gouge continues to grow and drivers continue to pump up record profits for California refiners that are shorting the market through exports and outages,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. ” California oil refiners profiteering has cost each California driver $220 since February.”

Persistent low gasoline inventories maintained by the state’s largest refiners has led to a record price spike that saw Californian’s paying as much as $1.30 more than the national average this Spring. Refiners in the state continue to export refined products from California, despite the continuing shortage.  The supply problems worsened since refinery outages began in February. They were exacerbated by record exports in December of 2014, when refiners exported more gasoline from the West Coast to foreign nations than ever in history.

Exports

Consumer Watchdog’s review of industry data also shows that during the last week six tankers are or have loaded up to 2 days of Californians’ petroleum supplies at California refineries for foreign export. The capacity of the ships, which are carrying California refined products as opposed to crude oil, totals over 80 million gallons, which is two days of the state’s fragile gasoline supply.

Consumer Watchdog questioned why refiners would be exporting product when California Energy Commission data on stocks shows that inventory of gasoline in the state is teetering on the bottom of a supply crisis.

“When Californians’ gasoline supplies are almost on empty, no ship should be leaving a California refinery with products we need,” said Cody Rosenfield, researcher at Consumer Watchdog.

The ships, which fly flags from Malta, the Bahamas, Singapore, China, and Denmark, are the latest fleet to export much-needed petroleum products from California.

SOURCE Consumer Watchdog