I investigate oil companies that manipulate gasoline and oil prices. I track oil tankers at sea, deal with whistle blowers, research Standard Oil, and have gone undercover at industry conferences. AMA!
My short bio: My name is Cody Rosenfield, I have been investigating oil market manipulation since early 2015. Oil companies use price manipulation to target specific regions and make arguments against environmental protections. For example, oil companies routinely manipulate California oil prices – then claim that it is California’s clean energy rules that force the prices to be so high. My work is to reveal the manipulation and curtail this false argument.
In 2017 I left the organization I spent three years at in order to try and look at other markets besides California. I’ve spent the last 9 months looking at the United States oil markets, and seeing if I could start an organization to focus solely on oil price manipulation issues. The data is incredibly expensive (just buying historical data for a few specific types of crude oil costs nearly $3,000).
I didn't secure funding, and I’m starting a new job in a week that I'm very excited about that has to do with oil/energy issues.
My work was initially focused in California, which is the 3rd largest gasoline market in the world after the United States as a whole, and China.
I was introduced to the work when ExxonMobil’s refinery in Torrance, California suffered a massive explosion in February of 2015. The refinery stayed offline for a year and a half – causing a huge price crisis in California. Californians were paying $1.50 more per gallon of gasoline than the national average. Californians paid billions more at the pump due to the shortage perpetrated by ExxonMobil and their allies.
ExxonMobil sold the refinery in mid-2016, and the new owner’s CEO stated publicly that he believed ExxonMobil purposely kept the refinery offline.
I was shocked at how little research was going into the issue, and how no law enforcement agency was taking responsibility for trying these cases. There are specific laws/rules by the Federal Trade Commission regarding oil price manipulation, but the FTC has NEVER utilized the rules to try a company. Americans have spent nearly $6 trillion on gasoline since 2000, and there are essentially no regulators paying attention.
I was urged to do this AMA by r/MechanicalKeyboard, after I posted the keyboard that I use to track ships at sea carrying oil. See that post here: https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/7nnizc/i_use_this_to_track_oil_tankers_at_sea_watching/
NEW PROOF https://imgur.com/1Pipfbq
HOW TO GET INVOLVED A lot of people are asking if they can help out/volunteer in some way. If you're interested, send me a pm, and what you're interested in doing and I will try and respond to everyone.
UPDATE Thanks everybody for your interest. I will be answering further questions first thing tomorrow morning.
EDIT 9:02 PST This has grown quite a bit overnight. I'm going to answer some more questions this morning, and I really appreciate everyone's interest.
COMMON QUESTION: Lots of people are asking about whether oil companies can charge whatever price they want. This is true only when it comes to sales from oil companies to consumers. A gas station can charge you any price it likes. On the other hand there are substantive rules about trades between oil companies, and sales from oil companies to gas stations. These wholesale trades are regulated, but the government rarely pursues them. If you want to learn about rules regarding oil product trades, the best place to start is this FTC guide, which shows there are strict rules, but they are rarely enforced: https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/rules/prohibition-energy-market-manipulation-rule/091113mmrguide.pdf
pbf ceo saying ExxonMobil kept refinery offline Here is the direct quote from Tom Nimbley, the CEO of PBF Energy on the second quarter 2016 investor call:
"As I look at Torrance, this is a facility that has somewhat under black clouds for a period of time because Exxon, I personally believe Exxon probably had made decision that they were not going to run a single refinery operation in the state of California."
Here is the transcript, with full context, from Seeking Alpha:https://seekingalpha.com/article/3993336-pbf-energy-pbf-ceo-tom-nimbley-q2-2016-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single
FINAL EDIT 1:35 PST 1/3/18 Thank you all for this journey and ongoing conversation. I’ve answered all the questions I’m going to be able to. If people are still interested in getting involved, please send me a PM – I will try and respond to everyone, and I'll try find a way to connect people to create a strong network. All from across the world are welcome - this issue is prevalent almost everywhere.
To stay up to date on my work, follow me on Twitter, where I will be more active in the coming year. Otherwise, keep an ear and an eye open for gasoline or oil price manipulation in the news, and check it out if you see it. I’ll do my best to post news stories or any updates on the issue. Remember, this is just the beginning.