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EU probes StatoilHydro’s bid for Jet petrol stations

The European Union antitrust regulator launched an in-depth probe on Wednesday into Norwegian oil company StatoilHydro’s bid for Jet petrol stations in Scandinavia.

“The Commission’s initial market investigation has indicated that the proposed merger raises serious doubts as to its compatibility with the Single Market as it appears that it could limit competition on the motor fuel retail markets in Sweden and Norway,” the European Commission said in a statement. “Rising oil prices make it even more important that consumers continue to benefit from competition at retail level,” said EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. “It appears, that Jet has until now kept a downward price pressure on Statoil and that pressure may be permanently lost after the merger. We now need to find out if a more detailed investigation confirms this initial view,” she added.

Jet petrol stations in Scandinavia are currently owned by Conoco Phillips of the US and mainly active in the sale of motor fuel at petrol stations. The commission said while Jet is not active in the upstream market of motor fuel supply, the parties’ activities overlap in the downstream market of retailing motor fuel, which might create competitive concerns in Sweden and Norway.

While Norway is not part of the EU, the completion of the entire transaction is subject to approval of the commission under the European Economic Area agreement, which covers the EU’s 27 members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. (