The small American company Green Oil has accused Lukoil, Saudi Aramco and the Venezuelan company PdVSA of price fixing with the goal of forcing up wholesale prices for petroleum products.
The claimant is demanding that the companies sell their American subsidiaries. Observers say the suit has little merit but, should it prevail, assets worth more than $25 billion would go on the block. That includes Lukoil’s chain of over 2000 filling stations, worth $4 billion, and about 8% of the country’s refining capacity.
Green Oil filed suit in an Illinois district court in the name of all American companies that buy fuel in American refineries for retail sale in the United States. Respondents are Saudi Aramco, PdVSA and Lukoil, as well as their subsidiaries – Lukoil Americas and Getty Petroleum and the large American companies 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 US filling stations that buy petroleum products from those companies.
Green Oil claims that many other international companies were involved in the conspiracy, including Rosneft. One specific claim is that the claimants reached an agreement with companies in Oman, Mexico, Norway and Angola to cut back production for the first six months of 2002 in order to drive up oil prices. Green Oil owns filling stations in Illinois. (petrolplaza)