The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Hillary Suggests Foul Play on Refinery Outages


Always a conspiracy with these people…

Experts have blamed this year’s increases on higher crude prices and, more importantly, a series of planned and unplanned refinery shutdowns and slowdowns for maintenance and repairs. But a growing chorus of political leaders are calling for investigations into whether the reduced output was intentional to keep prices high, or at least a case of negligence.

“Many of my constituents are suspicious of the timing and cause of these refinery outages,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). She requested the Senate’s energy committee look into that during next week’s hearings on gasoline prices.

But Charles T. Drevna, executive vice president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, insists refiners have been trying to produce as much as possible.

“To charge that we intentionally were gaming the system or not keeping a tidy house does a disservice to the industry and the public,” he said.

HT, Newsday.

Want to know more about the lack of refinery capacity? The Dallas Morning News quotes a senior economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Over the last three years, global petroleum demand has increased by 5.4 million barrels a day, whereas refining capacity is up only 3.1 million barrels a day.” And that ”refineries have made little progress in expanding to handle the heavier, higher-sulfur content oils that represent a growing share of the market. That secondary processing capacity is up only 344,000 barrels a day.” There are currently no refineries being built in the United States.

Now on to the accidentsand shutdowns. The DMN reports that British Petroleum’s Texas City refinery, the third largest in the United States, was down almost by half of capacity during an extended restart, (they had a complete shutdown for one day in April because of a power outage) and an explosion in February at Valero’s McKee refinery in the Texas Panhandle knocked that plant out of production for two months.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Sinclair Oil Co.’s refinery in Sinclair, Wyo., was shut down for 10 days while repairs are made to the facility’s catalytic cracking unit… The refinery, which processes 71,500 barrels of crude oil a day, experienced a power outage on Sunday that caused a temporary shutdown.

And Reuters reports Conoco is set for a major maintenance shutdown at the Borger [Texas] plant to install new equipment.

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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