BUSINESS

OMV Petrom under Competition Council investigation

The company denies any wrongdoing.

The Competition Council is investigating oil, gas and electricity producer OMV Petrom (OMV) over a competition regulation infringement after the company withdrew from the market the Eco Premium petrol variety (unleaded, additivised with lead substitute), the company informed via a statement signed by Director Mariana Gheorghe and sent to the Bucharest Stock Exchange yesterday, Hotnews.ro informs. The Eco Premium petrol represents approximately 2 per cent of the Romanian fuel market and the decision to withdraw it at the end of 2008 was based on economic and environmental considerations, ‘adequately taking into account the interests of consumers’, the document also reveals.

The biggest sanction the Competition Council may enforce is a fine amounting to 10 per cent of the operator’s turnover. ‘OMV Petrom believes that this alleged infringement is unsubstantiated and shall take all the due measures to assure a fair representation of all relevant facts to be reflected in the final decision of the Competition Council’, the statement reads. The decision to withdraw the Eco Premium petrol variety was made because of environmental and economic considerations, adequately taking into account the interests of consumers, the official document of the oil and gas group further notes.

The competition authority is going to present the conclusion of its investigation, including possible sanctions, after the OMV Petrom representatives are heard by the CC inspectors. The Competition Council investigation in Romania may also expand to companies which are majority shareholders in the companies under investigation in Ro­mania, with the involvement of DG Compe­tition from the European Com­mission, sour­ces close to the case told Hotnews.

At the same time, energy mar­ket sources have said that several companies were being investigated by the CC over an agreement on a possible infringement on the relevant legislation. The other targeted companies are Lukoil, MOL, Agip and Rompetrol, according to sources who nevertheless claim that Rompetrol benefits from mitigating circumstances.

Partly concludes fuel market research started in 2005

The Competition Council (CC) has concluded a portion of its 2005-started investigation on the fuel market, aimed at looking into alleged agreements between oil companies over setting the sale price for unleaded petroleum, Mediafax quoted Bogdan Chiritoiu, the Competition Council president, as saying. “We have received the answer from the European Commission, which we conveyed to the companies concerned, which will be audited again, Dec 12, Chiritoiu said, adding that the European Commission information is confidential.

In January, the National Agency for Fiscal Adminis­tra­tion has drawn up a report on fuel producers and distributors, saying fuel fill prices had been baselessly increased during 2010, given the hike was not related to crude quotations on the stock exchange, currency exchange rates or state-levied taxes, with nearly all of the oil companies posting significant losses, while gains were not reflected accordingly.

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