We noted yesterday that major U.S. oil companies are artificially raising gas prices to U.S. consumers by using the European Brent crude oil pricing yardstick.
USA Today touched on one side of this issue in February:
For the first time since 1949, the United States exported more gasoline, heating oil and diesel fuel last year than it imported, the Energy Department reported today.
In a piece headlined “Oil Refiners Look To Exports Growing Profit,”24/7 Wall St. writes: “The rise in imports could be the result of the decline in refined products, but more likely is that the imported crude is being refined and the refined products are being exported.”
The article explains what major oil companies and U.S. refineries — Valero Energy, Tesoro, Marathon Petroleum and HollyFrontier — are doing to boost their profit margins:
Crude at Gulf Coast refineries is priced at the Brent crude import price, no matter where it comes from. Refineries in the US interior are typically able to get the vast majority of their crude at or below domestic the WTI [West Texas Intermediary] crude price. Today, a barrel of Brent costs about $121, and a barrel of WTI costs about $106. That $15 difference in feedstock pricing pays dividends at the refinery. …
To boost margins at Gulf Coast refineries, Valero and the others are exporting more refined products, both gasoline and the higher-priced diesel fuel. …
The secret to making a profit in refining these days is for refiners to source crude oil domestically and then sell the refined products to US consumers at prices based on imported oil. Valero can’t do that, but Marathon, Tesoro, and HollyFrontier can. …
Despite higher-than-expected oil inventories and less driving by Americans, the price of crude oil finished higher today.