Refineries claim a Loss? What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Valero Energy announced today that it is closing down an entire US refinery this quarter.reducing capital spending to manage the economic slowdown. (It’s just coincidental, I suppose, that this also reduces production, which brings prices back up.) Reportedly the biggest U.S. refiner in the country, Valero would reasonably be expected to be doing very well, yet they’re crying the blues, claiming billions in losses, less than a year after Exxon reported huge profits.

Valero yesterday reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $3.3 billion. What is that based on? Are they counting as a loss all the money they’re not charging, writing it off as advertising and good will gestures?

They’re not stupid. The oil companies see us getting serious about alternative energy. Suddenly, dramatically and drastically, the prices crash from nearly $150 a barrel to $40, and that’s because of supply and demand, too? There’s something wrong with this whole ugly picture. The only thing that’s clear is that we must not be distracted by this dog & pony show. We need to keep on pushing for non-combustion fuel sources. It does’t matter if they start giving the gas away or buying everyone cars to burn the fossil fuel in, we still can’t afford to be at the mercy of these companies any longer, and we definitely cannot afford to be forgetful of the raking over the coals that they gave us less than a year ago.

The great thing about statistics is that they can often be twisted around to fit whatever spin their author wants them to. When gas refineries claim they’re losing billions selling gas, it’s time to get out the hip boots and head for high ground, because the dark smelly loose stuff is getting deep.

As Bush was so fond of suggesting, stay the course, Alternative Energy folk. We’ve got ‘em on the run!

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