Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FTC Pledges to Investigate Potential Price Fixing of Gasoline by U.S. Refiners

As Missourians continue to struggle with skyrocketing prices at the pump, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today applauded the announcement from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Jon Leibowitz that the FTC is opening an investigation into potential price fixing of gasoline by U.S. refiners. Last month, McCaskill called for an investigation, along with Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patty Murray (D-WA), into this potential problem after reports indicated that refiners were cutting back on U.S. gasoline stockpiles in order to artificially keep prices high and inflate their bottom line.

“I’m pleased that the FTC took our concerns seriously and is opening an investigation to ensure that there is no wrongdoing on the part of refiners and that they are not unnecessarily burdening Missouri families who are struggling to meet the rising demand at the pumps. I will continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure that the FTC conducts a thorough and accurate investigation,” McCaskill said.

In the letter to Leibowitz on May 17, the Senators urged the FTC to review the allegations for any potential wrongdoing and to determine the impact these actions may have on gasoline prices both in Missouri and throughout the country. According to information posted by the Energy Information Administration, U.S. refiners are using only 81.7 percent of their capacity, a decline of seven percent from the same time last year. However, since the beginning of 2011, U.S. refiners have seen a significant increase in their refining margins.

Additionally, the FTC has pledged to obtain information on utilization and maintenance decisions, inventory holding decisions, product supply decisions, product import and export strategies and volumes, product output decisions and product margins and profitability, as well as any other relevant information needed to determine if there is any wrongdoing on the part of U.S. refiners.

No comments: