The Commission issued an administrative complaint and initiated federal court action to block Western Refining, Inc.’s $1.4 billion proposed acquisition of rival energy company Giant Industries, Inc. to preserve competition in the supply of bulk light petroleum products, including motor gasoline, diesel fuels, and jet fuels, in northern New Mexico. After a week-long trial, the federal district court denied the Commission’s motion for a preliminary injunction, rejecting arguments that Giant had unique opportunities to increase supply and lower fuel prices in northern New Mexico. In October of 2007, the Commission dismissed its administrative complaint, concluding that further prosecution would not be in the public interest.
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The Commission charged that a motor oil lubricant importer illegally conspired with its competitors to restrict the importation and sale of these products in Puerto Rico, which resulted in higher prices paid by consumers. According to the FTC’s complaint, during 2005 and 2006, American Petroleum joined with numerous others in the Puerto Rico lubricants industry to lobby for the delay, modification, or repeal of Puerto Rico Law 278, which imposes an environmental recovery fee of 50 cents per quart. With the effective date of the law approaching, the importers adopted a strategy of refusing to import lubricants as a means of forcing a change. The consent order settling the charges bars American Petroleum from conspiring with its competitors to restrict output, refuse to deal, or boycott any lubricant buyer or potential buyer.
TC Group, LLC., Riverstone Holdings LLC, Carlyle/Riverstone Global Energy and Power Fund II, LP, and Carlyle/Riverstone Global Energy and Power Fund III, LP, In the Matter of
Prepared Statement of the Federal Trade Commission On Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate
Under the terms of the consent orders Chevron and Unocal will cease enforcing Unocal’s patents covering reformulated gasoline that complies with California Air resources Board Standard, will not undertake any new enforcement efforts related to the particular patents, and will cease all attempts to collect damages, royalties, or other payments related to the use of any of the patents. In addition, the companies will dismiss all pending legal actions related to alleged infringement of the patents. According to the complaint, the acquisition of the Unocal patents by Chevron would have facilitated coordinated interaction among downstream refiners and marketers of CARB gasoline.
An administrative law judge dismissed a complaint in its entirety against Union Oil of California that charged the company with committing fraud in connection with regulatory proceedings before the California Air Resources Board regarding the development of reformulated gasoline. The judge ruled much of Unocal’s conduct was permissible activity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and that the resolution of the issues outlined in the complaint would require an in depth analysis of patent law which he believed were not with the jurisdiction of the Commission. In July 2004, the Commission reversed the judge’s ruling and reinstated charges that Unocal illegally acquired monopoly power in the technology market for producing a “summer-time” low-emissions gasoline mandated for sale and use by the CARB for use in the state for up to eight months of the year. While the case was pending before the administrative law judge, Unocal agreed to settle the claims and cease and desist enforcing Unocal’s patents covering reformulated gasoline that complies with California Air resources Board Standard, will not undertake any new enforcement efforts related to the particular patents, and will cease all attempts to collect damages, royalties, or other payments related to the use of any of the patents. The settlement in this case was related to the settlement of FTC charges that Chevron's acquisition of Unocal would substantially lessen competition in the refining and marketing of CARB reformulated gasoline, as Chevron would acquire the relevant Unocal patents through the acquisition and would be able to use its position to coordinate with its downstream competitors, to the detriment of consumers. See In the Matter of Chevron Corporation and Unocal Corporation.
The consent order settled charges that Buckeye's proposed acquisition of five refined petroleum products pipelines and 24 petroleum products terminals in the United States from Shell Oil Company would reduce competition in the market for the terminaling of gasoline, diesel fuel, and other light petroleum products in the area of Niles, Michigan. Buckeye agreed to notify the Commission before acquiring any interest in the Niles petroleum terminal for a period of ten years.
A consent order permitted the $45 billion merger of Chevron and Texaco In., but required significant divestitures in the petroleum industry, including gasoline marketing assets, refining and bulk supply facilities, crude oil pipeline interests and terminaling facilities. Specifically, the Commission alleged that the proposed acquisition would likely substantially reduce competition in each of the following markets: 1) gasoline marketing in the western United States (in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming), the southern United States (in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia), in Alaska and Hawaii, and smaller local areas; 2) the marketing of California Air Resources Board (CARB) gasoline in California; 3) the refining and bulk supply of CARB gasoline for sale in California; 4) the refining and bulk supply of gasoline and jet fuel in the Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon, west of the Cascade mountains; 5) the bulk supply of Phase II Reformulated Gasoline (RFG II) in metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri; 6) the terminaling of gasoline and other light petroleum products in Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson), California (San Diego and Ventura), Mississippi (Collins), and Texas (El Paso), and the Hawaiian islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, and Oahu; 7) the pipeline transportation of crude oil from California's San Joaquin Valley; 8) the pipeline transportation of crude oil to shore from portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico; 9) the pipeline transportation of offshore natural gas to shore from locations in the Central Gulf of Mexico; 10) the fractionation of raw mix into natural gas liquids products at Mont Belvieu, Texas; and 11) the marketing and distribution of aviation fuel to customers in the western and southeastern United States.
The consent order permitted Valero to complete its $6 billion merger with Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corporation, but required the divestiture of Ultramar's Golden Eagle Refinery, bulk gasoline contracts, and 70 Ultramar retail service stations in Northern California to a Commission-approved acquirer. According to the complaint, the merger as originally proposed, would have lessened competition in two refining markets in California resulting in consumers paying more than $150million annually if the price of CARB gasoline increased just one cent per gallon. CARB gasoline meets the specifications of the California Air Resources Board.
A consent order settled antitrust concerns stemming from Exxon's acquisition of Mobil Corporation, but requires the largest retail divestiture in Commission history. The divestitures, representing only a fraction of the worldwide assets of Exxon and Mobil, include 2,431 gas stations; an Exxon refinery in California; a pipeline; and other assets. According to the complaint, the proposed merger would injure competition in moderate concentrated markets -California gasoline refining, marketing and retail sales of gasoline in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Texas; and in the highly concentrated markets for jet turbine oil.
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