LONDON — The Office of Fair Trading today cleared five oil companies of fixing gasoline pump prices in the face of rising crude oil prices that followed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
The office's director general, Gordon Borrie, said the industry's reaction to events in the Persian Gulf followed a "pattern one would expect in a competitive market."
The office launched its inquiry Aug. 24 and asked for information of price increases from the five major oil companies operating in Britain: British Petroleum Co. PLC, Royal Dutch Shell Group of Cos., Texaco Inc., Mobil Corp. and Exxon Corp.
Excess profits didn't appear to be generated at retail, wholesale, or refining stages of the industry, Borrie said.
He noted that increased demand since the Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait had generated "windfall profits" at the production stage. But he said it was a question of public policy, not competition policy, whether moves should be made to moderate price rises or redistribute windfalls.