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Bloomberg: Italy Regulator Will Review Oil Company Concessions on Gasoline: another illegal cartel involving Shell

By Anthony DiPaola

July 17 (Bloomberg) — Italy’s competition regulator will take four months to review steps oil companies including Eni SpA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc have pledged to take to avoid fines in an inquiry into competition in the gasoline market.

Eni, Shell and six other companies selling gasoline at service stations in the country agreed to take steps aimed at avoiding non-competitive pricing practices, the Antitrust Authority said in a faxed statement yesterday.

The companies will allow more competition among service station operators by allowing them more leeway in changing and advertising prices and giving competitors access to some fuel storage space, according to Antitrust Authority’s Web site.

Rome-based Eni, which didn’t admit wrongdoing by agreeing to changes, said it will charge lower prices for self-service pumps and stop setting a single national recommended retail price, according to documents published on Web site.

Eni, Italy’s largest oil company, also agreed to steps that would allow a large retail chain to open service stations, according to the documents. The company on July 5 said it had agreed to run jointly branded filling stations along with Groupe Auchan SA, which operates grocery stores in Italy.

The Antitrust Authority will decide whether to accept the conditions by Nov. 16, it said. The regulator in January said it was investigating the retail gasoline businesses of Eni, ERG SpA, Api SpA and local units of Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell, Kuwait Petroleum, Tamoil SA and Total SA for allegedly colluding to set retail fuel prices.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Rome at [email protected]

Last Updated: July 17, 2007 05:52 EDT

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