LUKOIL Accused of Price Fixing

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LUKOIL Accused of Price Fixing

08/10/2007
MOSCOW -- Green Oil Co., owner of filling stations in Illinois, has filed a lawsuit against LUKOIL, Saudi company Aramco, and state-owned Venezuelan producer PdVSA on charges of price fixing and is demanding the companies sell their U.S. subsidiaries.

As Russian business daily Kommersant reported, Green Oil filed the suit in an Illinois district court in the name of all American companies that buy fuel in American refineries for retail sale in the U.S. Respondents are Saudi Aramco, PdVSA and LUKoil, as well as their subsidiaries -- LUKOIL Americas, Getty Petroleum, Motiva (a joint enterprise of Saudi Aramco and Shell) and Citgo (wholly owned by PdVSA).

The suit claims that Saudi Aramco, PdVSA and LUKOIL agreed to manipulate production levels and artificially raised prices for oil and petroleum products for many years, causing losses to independent U.S. filling stations that buy petroleum products from the companies, according to the Kommersant report.

Green Oil also claims that many other international oil companies were involved in the conspiracy, including Russia's Rosneft. One specific claim states that the defendants reached an agreement with oil companies in Oman, Mexico, Norway and Angola to cut back production for the first six months of 2002 to drive up oil prices.

Green Oil, whose average annual proceeds are around $31 million, is demanding that the companies sell their American assets, reportedly worth more than $25 billion. That includes LUKOIL's chain of more than 2,000 filling stations, worth $4 billion, and about 8 percent of the country's refining capacity, Kommersant reported.

In response to the suit, a LUKOIL spokesman said, "The Green Oil allegations, made in a claim filed with the Illinois District Court, are entirely untrue," and added that the company is preparing to file a counter claim.