“But Robert McCullough, the Portland analyst who helped topple Enron over predatory electricity trading a decade ago, has issued a report arguing that gasoline prices should have never reached this spring’s dizzying, budget-draining heights.
“Oil refinery operators intentionally created a supply shortage in order to charge motorists inflated prices, he contends.
“In fact, according to his latest report, (PDF) the companies’ apparent manipulation of West Coast markets added up to a windfall of $48 million a day. ”
Some will say that oil companies are as competitive as two starving pit bulls fighting over a hot dog, that their refineries are old, need maintenance, environmental regulations strangle them, their Union drivers never-ending demands cripple them, competition from China, Russia, and Lichtenstein drive prices up. They add that we should trust the benevolent oil companies to respond to market forces appropriately, that they are the epitome of free enterprise.
Others disagree, and say that it’s not competitive and that the prices are manipulated regularly. They caught ‘em at it this time.