CCI wants investigation against oil marketing companies

Kolkata: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) may soon ask its investigation wing to carry out a detailed investigation into the alleged cartel-like behaviour of oil marketing companies increasing and decreasing prices of petrol in unison.

“Prima facie evidence suggest that the case pertaining to cartel-like behaviour of OMCs, does deserve a more detailed examination by the office of the Director General (Investigations), and we will soon take a view on it,” a CCI source told PTI.

The Commission is expected to make a final decision in this regard in the first fortnight of October. After carrying out an initial enquiry on the matter, the CCI found that ‘there was no valid reason why OMCs Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum were increasing and decreasing price of petrol in unison, as the product was already decontrolled’.

The official said, “Such a behaviour of the OMCs was limiting competition in the market and not giving consumers the opportunity to choose the best price.” OMCs earlier used to revise petrol prices on 1st and 16th of every month on the basis of average international oil prices and the foreign exchange rate in the previous fortnight.

However, since late July they no longer practice it and revise the rates on a random date to deter petrol pump dealers building positions. The three OMCs had raised petrol prices by 70 paise a litre on July 23, in view of high prices in the international market.

The three state-owned OMCs have been simultaneously raising and lowering prices of petrol to prevent any confusion in the market. The CCI is studying the case suo moto and is considering it under section 3 of the Competition Act, which pertains to anti-competitive agreements.

The CCI is empowered by an act of Parliament to look into cases suggesting cartel-like behaviour and abuse of dominant market position.