By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Crescent City continues to boast the highest gas prices in the state, according to price surveys taken by

The news comes as the survey indicates gasoline prices are beginning an upward march after five weeks of slow declines.

The surveys found California's most expensive gas at a Crescent City convenience store, which sold regular unleaded for $2.999 per gallon.

Oil industry analysts noted an increase in wholesale prices that could indicate the recent down turn has ended, however, the consumer group Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

The group wants Congressional investigations to find out whether Exxon and other companies manipulated the market to effect the election.

Such an investigation is already in progress, said U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson of California's 1st Congressional District.

andquot;The Commerce Committee of the House is conducting an investigation,andquot; Thompson said.

He's not close enough to that committee to know the details of its work, but the Democrat said that his gut feeling is that manipulating the market to effect the election occurred.

andquot;I sure hope they'll come to a quantitative conclusion soon,andquot; he said. andquot;This wouldn't be the first time this has happened.andquot;

Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights says earnings reports from ExxonMobil and Shell Oil show that industry leaders cut domestic refining profits during the run-up to last November's election so that lower gasoline prices would drop in the hope the companies might influence the November election.

Exxon set the record for the largest annual corporate profit in history last year by hitting the $39.5 billion mark in spit of a 4 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit attributed to an 18 percent drop in refining margins, according to the company's profit report released Thursday.

Shell, the world's second largest oil company set a company record by earning $25.4 billion last year. It, too, announced a 23-percent decline in refining margins.

Automobile Club of Southern California spokeswoman Carol Thorp said that refiners switch over from producing their winter blend of gasoline to the summer blend mandated for California by air quality requirements.

andquot;The summer blend is more expensive for refiners to produce,andquot; Thorp said.

AAA also noted an upward trend in market averages.