Schumer Calls on FTC to Probe Wave of Oil Company Mergers

Says ‘Anticompetitive Pattern’ Is Developing
Sen. Chuck Schumer
Schumer and 50 lawmakers signed the letter to the FTC. (Craig Hudson/Bloomberg News)

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the Federal Trade Commission to open a full investigation into a wave of acquisitions in the oil and gas industry, arguing that the consolidation threatens competition and could lead to higher prices.

In a letter March 6 signed by 50 lawmakers, Schumer said the FTC should expand and enhance existing investigations — including ones into Exxon Mobil Corp.’s $60 billion buyout of Pioneer Natural Resources Co., and Chevron Corp.’s $53 billion acquisition of Hess Corp. — while taking into account that more consolidation is likely to occur.

“It is now even clearer that there is an anticompetitive pattern developing as Big Oil corporations race to consolidate the Permian Basin and other key American oil fields, and the FTC must take this pattern into account as it assesses each individual transaction,” the lawmakers wrote to Lina Khan, the trade commission’s chair.

Schumer, who previously announced his opposition to both the Exxon and Chevron deals, joins President Joe Biden in asking the FTC to scrutinize oil and gas industry mergers.

The recent wave of acquisitions among oil and gas producers has reshaped the corporate landscape in U.S. shale oil. Companies flush with cash from the post-pandemic run-up in oil prices are increasingly buying rivals to secure new places to drill.

Meanwhile, Exxon filed for arbitration to retain pre-emption rights in a giant Guyanese oil field, threatening Chevron’s attempt to acquire a stake via its pending takeover of Hess.

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