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BRIEFLY / ENERGY

FTC Says Some Firms Limited Gas Supplies

March 31, 2001|Bloomberg News

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said some oil companies independently restricted supplies last year, contributing to gasoline price increases in Chicago, Milwaukee and elsewhere in the Midwest. In a nine-month investigation into why the price of a gallon of gas soared to more than $2, the FTC found that the companies hadn't colluded to raise prices but did act individually to increase profits. In many cases, the commission said, factors beyond the industry's control forced it to curtail production and withhold supplies. "There is no evidence that the price increases were a result of conspiracy or any other antitrust violation," FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky said. Voting 5-0, the FTC cited such factors as pipeline breaks and production difficulties to explain the drop in supply. The industry blamed the higher costs on stricter environmental standards that forced them to ship cleaner-burning fuel to the Midwest.

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