FFUK launches petition for full UK oil market investigation, after EC raids

FairFuelUK (FFUK) has launched a petition calling for a fresh investigation into the UK oil industry, after European anti-trust regulators confirmed they had carried out raids on several firms involved in the sector.

The raids, which took place on Tuesday 14 May, are reported to have involved BP, Shell, Statoil and oil pricing agency Platts.

A statement from the European Commission (EC) said it had “concerns that the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products”.

This behaviour, if established, “may amount to violations of European antitrust rules”, it said.

The raids were a preliminary step to investigate suspected anti-competitive practices, confirmed the EC. Even small distortions of assessed prices “may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers”, it added.

FFUK along with its industry partner s was left frustrated by the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) decision at the start of the year not to launch a new investigation into the UK oil market.

It said in a statement today: "In the light of news that EU competition investigators are probing the oil market for possible manipulation, we are calling on the UK bodies that regulate and monitor the markets to open up their investigations into these allegations and the impact of any such manipulation has had on UK families, businesses and the UK economy."

Conservative MP for Harlow and founder of campaign group PetrolPromise.com Robert Halfon said the latest allegations underlined the urgent need for an investigation into the oil market.

“Oil companies must come clean and show some responsibility for what is happening to the international oil price,” he said.

The Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA), which submitted a complaint on oil price fixing to the OFT in January 2012, also welcomed the move by the EC.

“Independent retailers hope this investigation will help provide the proper price transparency that consumers and businesses deserve and need,” said PRA chairman Brian Madderson.