McCullough Research Responds to the WSPA’s Criticism of Investigation into West Coast Gasoline Price Spikes in 2012

in Press Releases

February 25, 2013, Portland, Oregon – Robert McCullough, of McCullough Research, responds to industry criticism of his firm’s investigation into the cause of high gasoline prices on the West Coast in May and October 2012.  A detailed rebuttal to the industry critique can be found here.

A response commissioned by the Western States Petroleum Association, an organization which advocates for West Coast oil industries, argues the price spikes are the result of normal market factors. McCullough responds by stating “The industry claims that normal market factors explain the price spikes, but it does not conduct any analyses that would justify its opinions.” The McCullough Research rebuttal maintains that the gasoline price spikes in 2012 were not explained through normal market factors, because production and inventory levels remained high during periods of high prices.

As detailed in this rebuttal, WSPA’s response claims that McCullough Research blamed these price spikes on a pair of major refinery outages in 2012 and proceeds to disprove this claim. In fact, McCullough Research disputed this very claim in their November report after it was made by Tupper Hull of WSPA in a Portland KGW television interview. Therefore, according to McCullough, a significant portion of the WSPA response is dedicated to refuting a claim by a WSPA official.

McCullough’s work is part of an ongoing investigation by US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and US Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) into the causes of the two gasoline price spikes experienced by the West Coast in 2012. His report in November 2012 accompanied a letter from US Senator Cantwell (D-WA), US Senator Wyden (D-OR), US Senator Feinstein (D-CA), US Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to the US Department of Justice. An earlier report had accompanied a letter from Senator Cantwell to the Federal Trade Commission requesting an investigation into the price spike in gasoline prices in May 2012.

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