Oil giants BP and Shell saw their offices raided yesterday after allegations of collusion over price fixing over the last 10 years.
The European Commission confirmed officials carried out “unannounced inspections” at the premises of those companies active in and providing services to the crude oil, refined oil products and biofuel sectors.
The Commission did not name any of the companies raided but BP and Shell both told ELN they are being investigated.
In a statement, the European Commission said: “The Commission has 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. Furthermore, the Commission has concerns that the companies may have prevented others from participating in the price assessment process, with a view to distorting published prices.”
The Commission added the alleged price collusion, which may have been going on since 2002, could have had a “huge impact” on the price of oil and petrol at the pumps “potentially harming final consumers”.
Both firms BP and Shell said they are co-operating with the investigation.
In a statement, Shell said: “We can confirm that Shell companies are currently assisting the European Commission in an inquiry into trading activities.”
BP said: “BP is one of the companies that is subject to an inspection that was announced yesterday by the European Commission. We are co-operating fully with the inspection and unable to comment further at this time.”
BP’s London trading office and Shell’s Rotterdam and London offices were inspected yesterday.